Posts Tagged Jennifer Swanson

New Releases: July 2021

Like Fourth of July fireworks, this month is exploding with a colorful array of offerings for middle-grade readers. From social justice to sports, goats to ghouls, and fantasy to food, there’s something for everyone.

We want to congratulate two of our Mixed-Up Files members, who have new releases in July. Jennifer Swanson has a book coming out that’s sure to please sports and science enthusiasts. And Greg R. Fishbone is starting a fantasy story that will be serialized on a new platform on Amazon Kindle.

Mouse over the book titles for links to order from our Bookshop page or to get more information. And let us know in the comments section what you’re looking forward to reading this month. Happy Fourth and Happy Reading!

NONFICTION

The Secret Science of Sports: The Math, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering Behind Every Grand Slam, Triple Axel and Penalty Kick by Jennifer Swanson

Why does a football spiral? How do some athletes jump so high? The answer is science! The Secret Science of Sports helps kids better understand concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math through the sports they love to play and watch. Every sport—from baseball to basketball, to football and soccer, to wrestling, tennis, and lacrosse—involves a bit of science, technology, engineering, and math. You can’t throw a ball without Newton’s Law of Motion, and you can’t calculate a player’s stats without math. And every type of sports equipment—a helmet, cleats, shoulder or knee pads—were designed with the latest engineering and technology.

The Secret Science of Sports breaks down normally difficult STEM concepts like forces of motion, gravity, algebra, and even neuroscience, in a language kids can—and will want to—understand. Divided into sections like chemistry, biology, physics, technology, and more, this handy guide uses examples from sports like soccer, baseball, softball, football, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, and others to explain important STEM concepts for kids ages 8 to 12. They’ll learn how to use math to calculate a batter’s average, why a tennis racket is shaped the way it is, how biology affects athletic performance, the aerodynamics behind competitive swimsuits, and much more. With dozens of original, captivating illustrations to engage young readers, kids will have fun while learning about key STEM ideas that will prepare them for years of schooling to come.

 


Book Cover of Becoming Hercules by Greg R. FishboneBecoming Hercules 
by Greg R. Fishbone

Becoming Hercules is grounded in Greek mythology.

But instead of the usual heroes, we’ll follow lesser-known traditions and characters who must discover their own extraordinary strengths and powers.

Becoming Hercules is a Serialized Mythic Fantasy that will debut this month on a new platform on Amazon Kindle.

For more information about how to read the series, click on the link above.

 

 

 

History Smashers: The American Revolution by Kate Messner (author) and Justin Greenwood (illus.)

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode through Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, shouting, “The British are coming!” to start the American Revolution. RIGHT?

WRONG! Paul Revere made it to Lexington, but before he could complete his mission, he was captured! The truth is, dozens of Patriots rode around warning people about the Redcoats’ plans that night. It was actually a man named Samuel Prescott who succeeded, alerting townspeople in Lexington and then moving on to Concord. But the Revolutionary War didn’t officially start for more than a year after Prescott’s ride. No joke.

Discover the nonfiction series that smashes everything you thought you knew about history. Don’t miss History Smashers: The MayflowerWomen’s Right to VotePearl Harbor, and Titanic.

 

The Official Harry Potter Baking Book by Joanna Farrow

Bake your way through Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! Inspired by the films, this is the ONE and ONLY official Harry Potter cookbook! Packed with over 40 recipes and gorgeous, eye-catching photography, this baking cookbook is a must-have for every Harry Potter fan.

Delight in 43 tasty recipes inspired by the Harry Potter films! From Pumpkin Patch Pies to Owl Muffins, Luna’s Spectrespecs Cookies to Hogwarts Gingerbread, The Official Harry Potter Baking Cookbook is packed with mouthwatering recipes that will, dare we say . . . ensnare the senses.

Host a Great Hall-inspired feast for your friends or delight in a portion for one. Includes recipes for all kinds of delicious baked goods, as well as nutritional and dietary information. This baking cookbook is great for everyone and includes gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan recipes as well!

 

SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPORTS, AND MORE

Linked by Gordon Korman

Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. But it’s woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into school and vandalizes it with a swastika. Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing?

Because Michael was the first person to see it, he’s the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone’s looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana’s the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone’s treating her more like an outsider than ever. The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face—not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past. Gordon Korman, the author of the acclaimed novel Restart, poses a mystery for all readers where the who did it? isn’t nearly as important as the why?

 

Ten Thousand Tries by Amy Makechnie

Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eighth-grade universe . . . especially since his home universe is spiraling out of orbit. Off the field, Golden’s dad, once a pro soccer player himself, is now battling ALS, a disease that attacks his muscles, leaving him less and less physically able to control his body every day. And while Mom says there’s no cure, Golden is convinced that his dad can beat this, just like any opponent, they just have to try.

Golden knows that if you want to perfect a skill you have to put ten thousand tries in, so he’s convinced if he can put that much effort in, on and off the field, he can stop everything from changing. But when his dad continues to decline and his constant pushing starts to alienate his friends and team, Golden is forced to confront the idea that being master of your universe might not mean being in control of everything. What if it means letting go of the things you can’t control so you can do the most good for the things you can?

 

World in Between by Kenan Trebincevic and Susan Shapiro

Co-written by a New York Times best-selling author, this moving story of a Muslim boy’s exile from war-torn Bosnia to the United States offers a riveting refugee saga.​ Kenan loves drawing and playing soccer with his friends. He wants to be a famous athlete, hates it when his classmates trash his buck teeth by calling him “Bugs Bunny,” and fights with his big brother, who’s too busy and cool for him lately. Sometimes his parents drive him crazy, but he feels loved and protected—until the war ruins everything.

Soon, Kenan’s family is trapped in their home with little food or water, surrounded by enemies. Ten months later, with help from friends and strangers, they finally make it out of the country alive. But that’s only the beginning of their journey. An action-packed page-turner with heart about a kid doing his best during difficult times, World in Between celebrates the power of community and resilience, hope and kindness.

 

Better With Butter by Victoria Piontek

A girl with anxiety disorder finds an unlikely friend—and emotional support animal—in the form of an adorable fainting goat. Twelve-year-old Marvel is afraid of absolutely everything—amusement park rides, food poisoning, earthquakes, and that big island of plastic floating through the ocean. She also obsesses about smaller worries like making friends, getting called on by the teacher, and walking home alone. Her parents and the school therapist call her worries an anxiety disorder, but Marvel calls them armor. If something can happen, it will. She needs to be prepared.

But when Marvel stumbles on a group of older kids teasing a baby goat that has mysteriously shown up on the soccer field, she momentarily forgets to be afraid and rescues the frightened animal. Only Butter isn’t any old goat. She’s a fainting goat. When Butter feels panic, she freezes up and falls over. Marvel knows exactly how Butter feels and precisely what Butter needs—her. Soon, the two are inseparable, and Butter thrives under Marvel’s support. But Butter also helps Marvel.

 

Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code by Bridget Farr

Margie Kelly’s perfect skirt was dress coded on her very first day of middle school. Upset and embarrassed, Margie spends the whole day wearing oversized gym shorts. So much for starting sixth grade with confidence! But when Margie realizes that the dress code is only applied to the female students and not the boys, Margie gets mad. Really mad.

The dress code is keeping girls stuck in detention all day and away from learning. The boys act like they own the school. And the teachers turn a blind eye to the hypocrisies taking place in the halls, classrooms, and clubs. Something has to change! And Margie knows just how to do it. She’ll plan a school-wide protest with her best friend, Daniela, and fellow classmates Jamiya and Gloria. But as Margie moves forward with her plans, she comes to realize some hard truths about herself. Will Margie recognize her own privilege and make meaningful change for all students?

 

Escape From . . . Hurricane Katrina by Judy Allen Dodson (author) and Nigel Chilvers (illus.)

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most destructive storms in American history. In this fictional tale, daring twins Jo Jo and Sophie battle the raging floodwaters in a fight for their lives.

For twins Jo Jo and Sophie Dupre, Hurricane Katrina isn’t the most important thing on their minds-not compared their mother’s cancer treatments, Sophie’s swim meet, and Jo Jo’s upcoming coding competition. But when the storm intensifies and there’s only one seat their aunt’s car, Mom has to be the one to evacuate. The twins and their father are stuck at home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

The winds rise-and with them, the waves. The levees break and floodwater rages through the city. During the chaos, Jo Jo and Sophie are swept away. Together, they must find their way to the Superdome, where their father should be waiting-but can they escape the wrath of one of the deadliest storms in history?

 

Summer Lifeguards: Piper Makes Waves by Elizabeth Doyle Carey

Time to dive back into Cape Cod in the fourth book of the Summer Lifeguards series featuring empowering female friendships, relatable challenges, and tons of beach fun! Piper Janssen is surprised by how much she likes being a Junior Lifeguard. Except for one thing: she’s totally nervous about wearing a bathing suit in public. Add on a catering gig gone wrong, co-worker drama, and trying not to be distracted by adorable Luke, and Piper’s got a lot on her plate this summer.

Everyone knows that Piper is amazing. But will Piper ever be able to feel that about herself? Or will her self-consciousness distract her from seeing the real threats on the beach?

 

 

FANTASY, SPOOKY, AND SUPERNATURAL

Journey Beyond the Burrow by Rina Heisel

There are rules every mouse must follow if they’re to survive in the forest. Tobin knows these guidelines by heart. After all, with one younger sibling, another on the way, and a best friend with a penchant for trouble making, he needs to be prepared for anything.

But one stormy night, Tobin’s safe burrow is invaded by monstrous arachnids, and his baby brother is stolen away. To save him, Tobin will have to do something he’s never done before: break the rules.

Drawing inspiration from the author’s work as a natural science documentarian, Journey Beyond the Burrow is as alive as the forest floor, where nature is unpredictable, occasionally frightening, and inspirational all the same.

 

 

The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad

The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power. That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden.

For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right. Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move—no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks . . . if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.

 

The Ghoul Next Door by Cullen Bunn and Cat Farris

Eleven-year-old Grey lives in the legend-haunted New England town of Ander’s Landing, and he can’t help but feel like a pair of eyes is watching his every move. He discovers odd, gruesome bits and pieces from the graveyard that are left for him as gifts like art carved from bones or jewelry made from (hopefully not human) remains. Soon Grey is caught up in something bigger than he could ever have imagined.

He finds himself drawn into a strange mystery involving a race of reclusive subterranean creatures—ghouls, the eaters of the dead! Turns out, his secret admirer is a ghoul named Lavinia. An unlikely friendship forms between them.

The only problem is, their friendship breaks traditions—and the punishment is a fate worse than death.

 

Weird Kid by Greg van Eekhout

Jake Wind is trying to stay under the radar. Whose radar? Anyone who might be too interested in the fact that he has shapeshifting abilities he can’t control. Or that his parents found him as a ball of goo when he was a baby. Keeping his powers in check is crucial, though, if he wants to live a normal life and go to middle school instead of being homeschooled (and if he wants to avoid being kidnapped and experimented on, of course).

Things feel like they’re going his way when he survives his first day of school without transforming and makes a new friend. But when mysterious sinkholes start popping up around town—sinkholes filled with the same extraterrestrial substance as Jake—and his neighbors, classmates, and even his family start acting a little, well, weird, Jake will have to learn to use his powers in order to save his town.

 

Titans: The Fallen Queen 3 by Kate O’Hearn

Jake, Nesso, and Emily have been captured by the Mimics. Their friends are determined to rescue them before it’s too late, though that’s easier said than done. Driven from their home and facing a constant stream of new attacks, Astraea, Zephyr, Pegasus, and Tryn are struggling just to survive another day against Mimics who can kill with a touch and take the shape of any friend or family member.

While Jupiter is focused on returning to Titus, Astraea knows their only shot is to take the fight to the Mimic home world and stop the Mimic queen herself. To do that, they’ll need to even the odds of seven friends versus an entire planet. So they come up with a plan to capture the one thing more terrifying than their enemy—the giant snake Lergo. Seeking out the serpent that almost killed them seems like a terrible idea. But it will take more than one unlikely ally to save their friends—not to mention the universe—and defeat the Mimics for good.

 

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna

For fans of the Aru Shah and Serpent’s Secret series, this action-packed fantasy-adventure sees a girl’s drawings of Indian mythology spring to vivid life—including the evil god who seeks to enter the real world and destroy it. Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki’s sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years.

One day, her sketchbook’s calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew, which includes a lot of wonderful discoveries like the band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom, as well as not-so-great ones like the ancient deity bent on total destruction. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds–the real and the imagined–from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?

 


Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne

Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That’s why she makes a habit of scaring his new girlfriends away. She’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team because she’ll get to play her favorite sport AND use the cricket matches to distract Daddy from dating.

But when Coach Broomes announces that girls can’t try out for the team, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life . . . The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, this one doesn’t scare easily. Josephine knows there’s something fishy about Mariss but she never expected her to be a vengeful sea creature eager to take her place as her father’s first love! Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss’s clutches before it’s too late?

 

GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Okay Witch and The Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner

In this hilarious and heartwarming sequel to the bestselling and critically acclaimed graphic novel, The Okay Witch, half-witch Moth Hush uses magic to boost her confidence with disastrous results—perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Molly Ostertag!

Moth Hush is starting to settle into her newfound witch heritage and powers, but life at school continues to be rough. Even her best friend, Charlie, doesn’t entirely understand what it’s like for her to always be the one who gets mocked, and things only get worse when Moth’s mom starts dating one of the dorkiest teachers in the school! Then Moth gets hold of a mysterious charm that can unleash another version of herself—one who is confident, cool, and extremely popular.

What could possibly go wrong?

 

Clash (A Click Graphic Novel) by Kayla Miller

There’s a new kid in town! From the moment Natasha sets foot in class, it’s clear she’s one of the coolest kids in sixth grade. Everyone wants to be her friend, including Olive . . . but things might not be so easy.

Olive tries her best to befriend Nat, but it seems like the only thing they have in common is that they bothwant to hang out with Olive’s friends! Watching as Natasha gets closer with some of her best buds, Olive can’t help but worry that they’re starting to like Nat more than they like her . . .  and who could blame them? Nat is just that cool . . . and Olive is, well, just Olive.

The New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Kayla Miller delivers a nuanced look at navigating middle school friendships and the importance of both empathy and respect.

 

Mel The Chosen by Rachele Aragno

In this magical middle-grade graphic novel, nothing is more dangerous than a wish come true. 
More than anything, Mel wants to be a grown-up, and to make her own decisions, instead of having her parents pick what she wears, where they live, what they have for dinner, and where she goes to school. Then Mel gets the chance to travel to a magical world, where she can make her own choices and return all grown up. But what happens when you get older without living your life along the way?

Enchanting adventures and magical mishaps abound as Mel grapples with what it means to grow up. Rachele Aragno brings this enchanting story to life with a gorgeous watercolor style that feels both comfortingly classic and delightfully fresh! Anyone who has ever wished to grow up faster, or for just for a little bit of magic, will love Mel the Chosen.

  

Lilla the Accidental Witch by Eleanor Crewes

Magic is tough. Family is tougher. Boys are a complete mystery. Follow Lilla as she stumbles her way through each of them in Eleanor Crewes’s uniquely illustrated debut middle-grade graphic novel.

Thirteen-year-old Lilla feels she is a bit different. She’s quiet and shy and sometimes feels uncomfortable in the company of boys. She’d much rather spend time by herself drawing and daydreaming. This summer, while staying with her aunt in rural Italy, Lilla discovers a book of magic which reveals that she is a witch with special powers, the magic of the “Strega”.

But unbeknownst to her, an ancient witch, Stregamama, threatens to ruin more than just her summer. Lilla is soon faced with a choice that could change her life forever.

 

The Accursed Vampire by Madeline McGrane

A spooky and funny graphic novel perfect for fans of The Witch Boy and Real Friends. Dragoslava is a vampire kid. It has its perks, but sometimes being stuck as a kid forever can be a pain in the neck. And that’s not even the worst part. A few centuries ago, Drago was cursed by a witch. If they don’t complete every task she sets, they will be turned into worms.

When the witch wants a spellbook from Baneberry Falls, Drago sets off with their immortal friends. But mysteries await in this sleepy Midwestern town, and Drago must figure out if the keepers of the spellbook have a hidden agenda, like everyone else they’ve ever known.

One thing’s for sure: after this accursed mission, Drago’s immortal life will never be the same again!

 

 

 

New Releases: April 2021

April is a marvelous month for getting out of the house as the weather gets warmer. Whether you’re relaxing on your porch or exploring nature, there are several new releases for you to bring along. So, grab a book and head for the great outdoors! (Mouse over the titles for a link to purchase from our Bookshop page.)

 

Up first, we’re pleased to feature our own Jennifer Swanson’s brand-new book for explorers and collectors:

Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil, and Shell Hunting: The Definitive Interactive Nature Guide by Jennifer Swanson

Writer Jennifer Swanson and artist John D. Dawson invite you to rewild your life! With metal corners and 448 full-color pages, Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil & Shell Hunting is an indispensable tool for young explorers and rock collectors.

Make every day an adventure with the included:
– Immersive activities to get you exploring
– Write-in sections to journal about experiences
– Next-level adventures to challenge even seasoned nature lovers

No experience is required―only curiosity and courage. This interactive field guide to rocks, fossils, & shells, includes:
-Digging, chiseling, hammering, and wading for rocks and minerals
-Identifying rocks & minerals by location, texture, color, shape and size
-Determining between rocks, geodes, and space rocks
-Finding fossils and setting up a dig site
-Searching and snorkeling for shells
-Storing and displaying your collection
And so much more!

 

Merci Suarez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina

Seventh grade is going to be a real trial for Merci Suárez. For science she’s got no-nonsense Mr. Ellis, who expects her to be as smart as her brother, Roli. She’s been assigned to co-manage the tiny school store with Wilson Bellevue, a boy she barely knows, but whom she might actually like. And she’s tangling again with classmate Edna Santos, who is bossier and more obnoxious than ever now that she is in charge of the annual Heart Ball.

One thing is for sure, though: Merci Suárez can’t dance—not at the Heart Ball or anywhere else. Dancing makes her almost as queasy as love does, especially now that Tía Inés, her merengue-teaching aunt, has a new man in her life. Unfortunately, Merci can’t seem to avoid love or dance for very long. She used to talk about everything with her grandfather, Lolo, but with his Alzheimer’s getting worse each day, whom can she trust to help her make sense of all the new things happening in her life? The Suárez family is back in a touching, funny story about growing up and discovering love’s many forms, including how we learn to love and believe in ourselves.

 

It Doesn’t Take a Genius by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Emmett and his older brother Luke have always been “Batman and Robin,” though they’re quick to bicker about who’s who. Spending the summer at a historic Black summer camp seems like a wonderful adventure for the two to share, but since Luke is there as a junior counselor, he seems to spend all of his time being everyone else’s big brother, and ignoring Emmett.

As Luke seems to be moving on to new adventures, Emmett struggles in unexpected ways, especially in swim class and the “It Takes A Village” entrepreneurship class. Without his brother to turn to for support, Emmett works to build a new crew of “superfriends,” who’ll help him plan something spectacular for the end-of-camp awards night and celebration. Along the way, Emmett learns that no matter what, there can be many ways to define family. It Doesn’t Take a Genius is inspired by the feature film Boy Genius, starring Miles Brown, Rita Wilson, and Nora Dunn.

 

The Last Windwitch by Jennifer Adam

Many years ago, in the kingdom of Fenwood Reach, there was a powerful Windwitch who wove the seasons, keeping the land bountiful and the people happy. But then a dark magic drove her from the realm, and the world fell into chaos.

Brida is content in her small village of Oak Hollow. There, she’s plenty occupied trying to convince her fickle magic to actually do what it’s meant to in her work as a hedgewitch’s apprentice—until she accidentally catches the attention of the wicked queen.

On the run from the queen’s huntsman and her all-seeing Crow spies, Brida discovers the truth about her family, her magic, and who she is destined to be—and that she may hold the power to defeating the wicked queen and setting the kingdom right again.

 

Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope

Thirteen-year-old Prince Noa has hated the ocean since the day it caused his mother’s death. But staying away from the sea isn’t easy on his tropical island home where he’s stuck trying to keep up with his dim-witted and overconfident younger brother Dagan, the brawn to Noa’s brains.

When a vengeful pirate lays siege to their home, Noa and Dagan narrowly escape with their lives. Armed with a stolen ship, a haphazardly assembled crew, and a magical map that makes as much sense as slugs in a salt bath, the brothers set sail for other kingdoms in search of help. But navigating the sea proves deadlier than Noa’s worst fears. To free his home, Noa must solve the map’s confusing charts and confront the legendary one-eyed pirate before an evil force spreads across the realm and destroys the very people Noa means to protect.

 

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect–but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie’s sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn’t be more of a pain if she tried. It’s all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.

Still–there’s sand beneath her feet. A new neighbor from the city, who has a lot to teach Millie. And surfer boy Rocky to admire–even if she doesn’t have the guts to talk to him.

It’s a time of sunshine, siblings, and stress. Will Millie be able to find her way in her family, and keep her balance as the the world around her loses its own?

 

 

The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman

Any child can spark magic, but only the elite are allowed to kindle it. Those denied access to the secrets of the kindling ritual will see their magic snuffed out before their thirteenth birthday.

Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic is the best kindling school in New York City―and wealthy twelve-year-old Emma Harris is accustomed to the best. But when her father dies, leaving her penniless, Emma is reduced to working off her debts to Miss Posterity alongside Izzy, a daring servant girl who refuses to let her magic be snuffed out, even if society dictates she must. Emma and Izzy reluctantly form a pact: If Izzy teaches Emma how to survive as a servant, Emma will reveal to Izzy what she knows about magic.

Along the way, they encounter quizzes that literally pop, shy libraries, and talking cats (that is, house dragons). But when another student’s kindling goes horribly wrong, revealing the fiery dangers of magic, Emma and Izzy must set aside their differences or risk their magic being snuffed out forever.

 

The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon

Mickey is angry all the time: at his divorced parents, at his sister, and at his two new stepmoms, both named Charlie. And so he can’t resist the ad inside his pack of gum: “Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Buy The Anti-Book! Satisfaction guaranteed.” He orders the book, but when it arrives, it’s blank–except for one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the pages with all the things and people he dislikes . . .

Next thing he knows, he’s wandering an anti-world, one in which everything and everyone familiar is gone. Or are they? His sister soon reappears–but she’s only four inches tall. A tiny talking house with wings looks strangely familiar, as does the mysterious half-invisible boy who seems to think that he and Mickey are best buds. The boy persuades Mickey to go find the Bubble Gum King–the king, who resides at the top of a mountain, is the only one who might be able to help Mickey fix the mess he’s made.

 

Thornlight by Claire Legrand

Resourceful twin sisters and a desperate queen must find a new source of magic to stop their kingdom from being consumed by darkness. Centuries and centuries ago, the Vale was split in two in a war between witches. Ever since, an evil darkness has been climbing, climbing, climbing out of the Break, infecting everything it touches. The people of the Vale fight it with discs made of lightning—and with an ancient spell. Brier Skystone is the youngest, most talented lightning harvester the Vale’s ever seen. Her twin sister, Thorn, is a sensitive artist who’s braver than even she knows. And young Queen Celestyna Hightower is determined to be Mender of the Break, the last of her family to bear the weight of anchoring the spell—which is really more of a curse.

As the darkness keeps coming, these three girls will each undertake their own perilous journeys to try to save their home—and each quest reveals an electrifying surprise. Perhaps they’ve been fighting the wrong monster all along. Claire Legrand creates an intricate and layered world full of unicorns, witches, mistbirds, grifflets, and unlikely heroes—with an appearance by the legendary witch Quicksilver Foxheart. This stand-alone companion to Foxheart explores what it means to be brave, and the destructive force of war on nature and community

 

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera

Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert and threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible crime.

When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans and agrees to help her on her journey.

With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.

 

A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight by Jen White

Cora is constantly counting the minutes. It’s the only thing that stops her brain from rattling with worry, from convincing her that danger is up ahead. Afraid of the unknown, Cora spends her days with her feet tucked into sand, marveling at La Quinta beach’s giant waves and her little sister Sunshine’s boundless energy.

And then danger really does show up at Cora’s doorstep―her absentee uncle, whose sudden presence in the middle of the night makes her parents nervous and secretive. As dawn breaks once more, Cora must piece together her family and herself, one minute at a time.

A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is an endearing and revelatory middle-grade novel that is perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.

 

 

Warriors: The Broken Code #5: The Place of No Stars by Erin Hunter

The time has come to return to the Dark Forest. ThunderClan’s deputy, Squirreflight, has vanished with the cat now known to be an impostor, sowing suspicion and mistrust among the five Clans. The cause of their ancestors’ silence is finally clear—but so is the terrifying truth of the danger they must face if they hope to bring light back to the darkness . . .

Packed with action and intrigue, this sixth Warriors series is the perfect introduction for readers new to the Warriors world, while dedicated fans will be thrilled to discover the new adventures that unfold after the events of A Vision of Shadows.

 

 

 

Aru Shah and the City of Gold: A Pandava Novel Book 4 by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah and her sisters–including one who also claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter–must find their mentors Hanuman and Urvashi in Lanka, the city of gold, before war breaks out between the devas and asuras.

Aru has just made a wish on the tree of wishes, but she can’t remember what it was. She’s pretty sure she didn’t wish for a new sister, one who looks strangely familiar and claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter, like her.

Aru also isn’t sure she still wants to fight on behalf of the devas in the war against the Sleeper and his demon army. The gods have been too devious up to now. Case in point: Kubera, ruler of the city of gold, promises to give the Pandavas two powerful weapons, but only if they win his trials. If they lose, they won’t stand a chance against the Sleeper’s troops, which will soon march on Lanka to take over the Otherworld. Aru’s biggest question, though, is why every adult she has loved and trusted so far has failed her. Will she come to peace with what they’ve done before she has to wage the battle of her life?

 


Greystone Secrets #3: The Messengers
 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

As book three of the Greystone Secrets series opens, the Greystone kids have their mother back from the evil alternate world, and so does their friend Natalie. But no one believes the danger is past.

Then mysterious coins begin falling from unexpected places. They are inscribed with codes that look just like what the Greystones’ father was working on before he died. And with the right touch, those symbols transform into words: PLEASE LISTEN. And FIND US, SEE US, HELP US. . . .

The coins are messengers, telling the Greystones and their allies that their friends in the alternate world are under attack—and that the cruel, mind-controlling forces are now invading the better world, too.

After another spinning, sliding journey across worlds, the Greystone kids must solve mysteries that have haunted them since the beginning: what happened when the Gustanos were kidnapped, what created the alternate world, and how a group of mismatched kids can triumph once and for all against an evil force that seems to have total control.

 

Shortcuts (Sanity & Tallulah 3) by Molly Brooks

Tallulah is great at piloting! And with her learner’s permit freshly reinstated, she has the perfect opportunity to prove it: filling in on the mail route to nearby stations while all the regular pilots are out sick. It’s her first big solo flight, and yeah, okay, her parking could use some work, but she’s not even a little bit nervous—she’s got Sanity along as copilot, plenty of old flight logs for navigation, and they’ll be in radio contact with Wilnick almost the whole time. All they have to do is follow the pre-approved route and stay out of the dangerous, uncharted, explosives-littered debris cloud . . . no matter how tempting a shortcut it is. Oh, and don’t cross the military blockade into the United Territories, obviously. See? No sweat!

Sanity and Tallulah’s pre-approved route didn’t say anything about space stations exploding, enemies in need of rescue, or getting caught in the middle of a border crisis in danger of escalating into all-out war, but sometimes totally awesome pilots have to change plans on the fly, and only an excellent copilot can keep things from going completely upside down.

 

 

The Great Peach Experiment 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie by Erin Soderberg Downing

After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day.

Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires! But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment–a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake . . .

A perfect blend of humor, heart, and family antics, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie is a delectable treat to be gobbled down or savored slowly. (Slice of pie on the side, optional, but highly recommended.)

 

Squad Goals by Erika J. Kendrick

Magic Olive Poindexter has big shoes to fill. Her mother was a professional cheerleader, her father is a retired NBA legend, her big sister is the new face of the oh-so-glamorous Laker Girls, and her grandmother was the first black cheerleader ever on Valentine Middle School’s HoneyBee cheer squad. Magic wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps. But first, she has to survive Planet Pom Poms, the summer cheer camp where she’ll audition for a spot on the HoneyBee squad. But with zero athletic ability and a group of mean girls who have her number, Tragic Magic is a long way from becoming the toe-touching cheerleader heroine she dreams of being.

Things start to look up when her best friend Cappie joins her at camp—until Cappie gets bitten by the popularity bug, that is. To make matters worse, Magic’s crushing hard on football star Dallas Chase. Luckily, Magic’s not alone: with the help of a new crew of fabulous fellow misfits and her Grammy Mae’s vintage pom poms by her side, Tragic Magic might just survive—and even thrive—at cheer camp.

 

Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

Everyone knows that twelve-year-old Madison “Madi” Lewis is not allowed to bring home any more animals. After she’s saved hairless mice, two birds, a rabbit, and a stray tom cat that ended up destroying the front porch, Madi’s parents decide that if they find one more stray animal in the house, she won’t be allowed to meet Jane Goodall at an upcoming gala event.

But when Madi and her two best friends, Aaron and Jack, rescue beaver kits whose mother was killed, they find themselves at the center of a local conspiracy that’s putting the beavers and their habitats in danger.

As Madi and her friends race to uncover the threat targeting the beavers, Madi must put her animal whisperer skills to the test in both raising the orphaned beaver kits and staying out of trouble long enough.

 

 

We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, author, Frane Lessac, illustrator

Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.

 

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum by Katie Scott and Ester Gaya

Welcome to the Fungarium! Step into the world of fungi and learn all about these strange and fascinating life-forms.

Illustrator Katie Scott returns to the Welcome to the Museum series with exquisite, detailed images of some of the most fascinating living organisms on this planet—fungi.

Exploring every sort of fungi, from the kinds we see on supermarket shelves to those like penicillium that have shaped human history, this collection is the definitive introduction to what fungi are and just how vital they are to the world’s ecosystem.

 

 

 

13 Things Strong Kids Do: Think Big, Feel Good, Act Brave by Amy Morin

Do you worry that you don’t fit in? Do you feel insecure sometimes? Do you wish your life looked as perfect as everyone else on social media? Do you have anxiety about things you can’t control? Being a tween can be really hard, especially in today’s world.

You balance it all—homework, extracurricular activities, chores, friendship drama, and family, all while trying to give the impression that you know exactly what you’re doing. Sometimes when we try to look perfect on the outside, we can feel rotten in the inside.  Do you want to become a stronger person, inside and out? By picking up this book, you’re already taking the first step toward becoming a better person where it counts—by training your brain.

Prominent psychotherapist and social worker Amy Morin offers relatable scenarios, then shows tweens the ways they can develop healthy habits, build mental strength, and take action toward becoming their best selves. 13 Things Strong Kids Do gives tweens the tools needed to overcome life’s toughest challenges.

 

Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones

Rosie and Baker are hiding something. Something big. Their great grandmother made them promise to pretend she’s alive until they find her missing will and get it in the right hands. The will protects the family house from their grandmother, Grim Hesper, who would sell it and ship Rosie and Baker off to separate boarding schools. They’ve already lost their parents and Great Grammy–they can’t lose each other, too.

The siblings kick it into high gear to locate the will, keep their neighbors from prying, and safeguard the house. Rosie has no time to cope with her grief as disasters pop up around every carefully planned corner. She can’t even bring herself to read her last-ever letter from Great Grammy. But the lies get bigger and bigger as Rosie and Baker try to convince everyone that their great grandmother is still around, and they’ll need more than a six-month supply of frozen noodle casserole and mountains of toilet paper once their wicked grandmother shows up!

This unexpectedly touching read reminds us that families are weird and wonderful, even when they’re missing their best parts. With humor, suspense, and a testament to loyalty, Ena Jones takes two brave kids on an unforgettable journey. Includes four recipes for Great Grammy’s survival treats.

 

 

 

 

Our 2021 Reading and Writing Resolutions

The year 2020 has finally come to a close and, like everyone else, MUF Members are looking forward to a new year and new resolutions. After reading some of these, I’m thinking about revising my own list. Maybe you will, too. Feel free to leave us your reading/writing resolutions in the comments section. Happy Reading and Writing in 2021!

 

 

Click on the authors’ names to learn more about them and their work. Click on the titles to support independent bookstores by purchasing a book.

 


Andrea Pyros 
is the author of Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas and My Year of Epic Rock.

Writing Resolution: “A gentle reminder to myself and anyone else who needs to hear this: Don’t stress over the messiness of a first draft! They’re not supposed to be perfect, but a framework to build upon during multiple revises.”

Reading Resolution: “To leave reviews for books I’ve enjoyed reading. Authors really benefit from positive online reviews, so this is a simple way to boost other writers.”

 

 


Beth McMullen
 is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and the Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter series–next up, Lola Benko and the Midnight Market, summer 2021.

Resolution: “2020 was the year of ‘no’ so I’m determined to make 2021 the year of ‘yes’! First up on the list, I’m giving myself permission to write what I want, not what I think I should be writing or what others would like for me to write. We will see how that goes!”

 

 

 

S.A. Larsen is the award-winning author of Motley Education and other middle grade and young adult books, who loves to chase her characters around a graveyard or antagonize them with the wonders of young love.

Resolution: “I intend to loosen the reins of my creativity by committing to two sessions of free-writing every month. Feel free to join me!”

 

 

 

Melissa Roske is the author of Kat Green Comes Clean and other contemporary middle-grade fiction.

Resolution: “Before the pandemic, I had a (relatively) consistent writing schedule. I’d write in the mornings, take a break for lunch, do more writing, and then head to the gym. Now that the world has changed, I lack the focus and discipline to stick to my previous schedule. Therefore, my resolution for 2021 is to create a new, less restrictive schedule that accommodates my ‘new normal.’ For instance, I can’t go to the gym anymore, but I can take an online fitness class before or after a writing session. And I can be kinder to myself when I have a less-than-productive day. Sometimes, getting out of bed in the morning is enough.”

 

 

Rosanne Parry, the author of A Whale of the Wild  and more, writes books in her treehouse, sells books at Annie Blooms Bookstore, and reads books everywhere.

Writing Resolution: “I have a year of intensive research coming up. I hope to read another 50 books, websites, archive materials and maps, view documentaries and meet with at least a dozen experts in the field. ”

Reading Resolution: “I hope to take greater advantage of audio books this year. I also want to find and nominate at least 2 new titles for the Indie Next list. ”

 

 

Jennifer Swanson is an award-winning author of Beastly Bionics, Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature as well as 40+ STEM books for kids. Science ROCKS!

Resolution: “Be Healthy. Be Happy. Stay Curious.”

 

 

 

 

Donna Galanti writes middle grade where heart and hope meet adventure! She is the author of the Joshua and The Lightning Road series and the upcoming Unicorn Island, which begins a new series.

Resolution: “I had 2 new books to write on deadline this year, but that meant I neglected my numerous own projects! In 2021, I intend to finish drafting and revising 3 books in various stages and outline a new idea. My day will continue to include mediation, walks in the woods, and working on one project at a time each day—but also adding yoga to get flexible! Until recently, my critique partner and I met each month for a writing day but have changed that up this month to Zoom “accountable” days. I aim to do a few of these each month with her if I can in 2021. We set goals, a day, and a time, like between 9am and 5pm, and then Zoom every 2 hours to check in and hold each other accountable. It’s a great way to boost productivity when you have to check in with someone!

 

Natalie Rompella is the author of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners as well as more than sixty materials for kids, including books on topics such as insects and sled dog racing.

Resolution: “To write something that requires little or no research.”

 

 

 

Aixa Perez-Prado is a writer and illustrator of quirky, own voices stories with heart and humor.

Resolution: “I will approach my writing and drawing with the same confidence and spirit as I did as a child, full of joy, wonder and hope.”

 

 

 

 

Sean McCollum, the author of 1 For All, is a nomad from the Midwest who’s been fortunate enough to build a career writing nonfiction books, stories, and articles for kids, tweens, and teens.

Resolution: “Read more, write more, and give more young people more reasons to read.” 🙂

 

 

 

 

Meira Drazin, who loves to read widely, voraciously and across genres, is the author of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award-winning middle grade novel Honey and Me, forthcoming from Scholastic.

Resolution: “I’m always so jealous when I see people post on social media roundups of what they’ve read in the last calendar year. This year I resolve to be one of those people! I’ll admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve had this resolution: in the past I have tried jotting down in the back of my journal each book as I finish it, only to get as far as January. Or to decide to do it in April and unsuccessfully try to backtrack by scanning the pile of books next to my bed, bath, couch, office, etc. I think this year the key will be to do it in Notes on my phone so that it’s in a central location and generally something I have at hand. How wonderful to be able to see the breadth of what you’ve read over twelve months, and remember what moved you, what irritated you, what made you laugh or cry, what was interesting or even what was boring, what did not deserve the hype and what deserved all its hype and then some.”

 


Samantha M Clark
 is the award-winning author of The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast.

Resolution: “I’m really excited to have two new books coming out: Arrow  published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster on June 22 and American Horse Tales: Hollywood, coming from Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House on June 29. While I’ll be busy with those as well as other upcoming projects, my 2021 resolution is to find peace wherever I can and make lots of time to read all the wonderful middle-grade books that have come out since COVID-19 started.”

 

 

Heather Murphy Capps is an #ownvoices middle grade author who writes contemporary, science, and magical themes.

Resolution: “To tackle two projects: 1) draft a new book I’m noodling on but haven’t yet outlined; 2) revise a book I trunked a while ago but have a real itch to resurrect. Peace out, 2020, bring it on, 2021!”

 


Michelle Houts
, the author of Winterfrost, writes fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages from a restored one-room schoolhouse.
Resolution: “This year, I want to write for practice: morning pages, a poem a day, free-writing … anything that exercises my writer’s brain.”

 

 

 

 


Jonathan Rosen
is the beloved and highly controversial author of Spooky MG books such as Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies and From Sunset to Sunrise.

Resolution: “Total Global Conquest and also to write more.”

 

 

 

 

Mimi Powell is a writer, librarian, and avid video-gamer.

Resolution: “From Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, where she talks about writing as a meditative practice: write for twenty minutes a day, doesn’t matter if it is good or not. Just write.”

 

Greg R. Fishbone is the founding member of the Mythoversal Project and the author of speculative fiction and mythology in verse.

Resolution: “To release at least one installment of mythology stories per week through 2021.”

 

 

 

 

Dorian Cirrone is the author of the middle-grade novel, The First Last Day, and other books for kids and teens.

Writing resolution: “To write with abandon, using the Pomodoro Technique of setting a timer for twenty-five minutes at a time and knocking that inner editor off my shoulder while I write. Also, to finish the novel I started a couple of years ago that I’ve been thinking about for more years than I can count.”

Reading resolution: “To read widely and to try new genres.”