Just in time for summer, an excellent selection of new middle grade releases hits bookstore and library shelves this month. We’re especially excited here at the Mixed Up Files because three of our authors have four (FOUR!!) new releases this month. Congratulations to Dorian Cirrone (The First Last Day), Tricia Springstubb (Every Single Second), and Jennifer Swanson (Explore Forces and Motion and Super Gear) on their newest middle grades.
In the 24 new books listed below you’ll also find new novels from Karen Cushman and Kate Messner, mysteries, nonfiction, ninja librarians, a craft book, and a graphic novel. Let the reading begin!
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson (fiction):
When Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, Topher, Brand, and Steve come up with a risky plan — more of a quest, really — to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them and what the three of them mean to each other.
School of the Dead by Avi (mystery)
In this spine-tingling story, a boy must solve the mystery of the ghost haunting him. When Uncle Charlie dies suddenly, Tony is devastated. Then he starts seeing Uncle Charlie everywhere! It doesn’t help that Tony switched schools—it was Uncle Charlie’s dying wish that Tony attend the Penda School, where Uncle Charlie himself went as a kid. The Penda School is eerie enough without his uncle’s ghost making it worse. On top of that, rumors have been circulating about a student who went missing shortly before Tony arrived. Could that somehow be related to Uncle Charlie’s ghost?
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin (fiction):
Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day until a plane struck the World Trade Center. But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. They don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. From the author of Anything But Typical.
The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop (fiction)
Last summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They were headed for the championship, and her loudest supporter at every game was her best friend and older sister, Haley. This summer, everything is different. Haley’s death, at the end of last summer, has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn’t want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill the Haley-sized hole in her world. The one glimmer of happiness comes from the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team. For the first time, Quinnen and her family are hosting one of the players for the season. Without Haley, Quinnen’s not sure it will be any fun, but soon she befriends a few players. With their help, can she make peace with the past and return to the pitcher’s mound?
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne (historical fiction):
When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy Austrian household. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.
Knit, Hook and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts by Laurie Carlson (nonfiction/crafts):
Packed with over 70 projects across a variety of fiber arts including knitting, felting, knotting and braiding, spinning, weaving, crocheting, and dyeing. Learn to felt a handy bag, braid a small rug, weave a colorful tapestry, knit comfy slippers, crochet a belt, make and use natural dyes, repurpose old clothing, and much more.
The First Last Day by Dorian Cirrone (fiction):
What if you could get a do-over — a chance to relive a day in your life over and over again until you got it right? Would you? After finding a mysterious set of paints in her backpack, eleven-year-old Haleigh Adams paints a picture of her last day at the New Jersey shore. When she wakes up the next morning, Haleigh finds that her wish for an endless summer with her new friend Kevin has come true. At first, she’s thrilled, but Haleigh soon learns that staying in one place and time comes with a price. And when Haleigh realizes her parents have been keeping a secret, she is faced with a choice: do nothing and miss out on the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she’s trapped in and face the inevitable realities of moving on. As she and Kevin set out to find the source of the magic paints, Haleigh worries it might be too late. Will she be able to restart time? Or will it be the biggest mistake of her life? “This will appeal to reluctant readers and those looking for a fun summer read with a twist. A heartfelt novel loaded with wonderful character development.” (School Library Journal)
Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman (fiction/fantasy):
It’s time for Grayling to be a hero. Her mother, a wise woman a sort of witch has been turned into a tree by evil forces. Grayling heads off dubiously into the wilds in search of help, where she finds a weather witch, an aromatic enchantress, a cheese soothsayer, a slyly foolish apprentice, and a shape-shifting mouse named Pook. A fast-paced and funny coming-of-age odyssey from a Newbery medalist.
The Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks by Jen Swann Downey (fiction/fantasy):
After stumbling upon the secret society of time-traveling ninja librarians, Dorrie has finally joined Petrarch’s Library as an apprentice. But on a training mission to 1912 England, Dorrie finds herself dangerously close to a member of the Library’s biggest enemy. This is the second in the Ninja Librarians series.
Five Times Revenge by Lindsay Eland (fiction):
Five unlikely friends. Two bullies. One epic prank. Adam is the prank mastermind. Perk is his best friend and the computer genius. Pearl is the prettiest girl in school and a violin prodigy. Ray looks like a big dumb jock, but he secretly wants to be an engineer. And Dutch is the often-bullied dork who is in tune with everyone’s feelings. The five of them couldn’t be more different. But there’s one thing they have in common: they are fed up with Hill Parmar, the school bully and his dad, their school principal who’s always turning a blind eye. When Hill finally steps over the line, the five unlikely schemers band together for a prank like their middle school has never seen.
The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (mystery):
A riveting historical art mystery, based on true events and set in the Roaring Twenties. It’s 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?
When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin (fiction):
A boy’s chance encounter with a scruffy dog leads to an unforgettable friendship in this deeply moving story about life, loss, and the meaning of family. Ben Coffin has never been one for making friends. As a former foster kid, he knows people can up and leave without so much as a goodbye. Ben prefers to spend his time with the characters in his favorite sci-fi books until he rescues an abandoned mutt from the ally next-door to the Coney Island Library.
Princess DisGrace: A Royal Disaster by Lou Kuenzler (fiction):
When Grace arrives at Tall Towers Princess Academy, her name isn’t on the Fairy Godmother’s list of students. She isn’t elegant at all—not even her curtsy is graceful. And all the other girls are sure she’s headed straight back to her tiny, messy kingdom. But one unicorn knows better. He’s clumsy and dirty and the perfect match for Grace! And together they have tons of fun. But the other princesses aren’t convinced Grace belongs at the academy. Can she prove that being a princess is about more than just being perfect?
Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr (fiction/mystery):
Anastasia Stolonov and Edie Wilson are back at boarding school after spending the summer apart, and they can’t wait to be dormmates again. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, and Edie is paired with Janet, the new girl at Knight’s Haddon. When mysterious things begin to happen, Edie starts to think that Janet may not be all she seems–and suddenly events take a dangerous turn. Will Edie be able to salvage her friendships and uncover what’s going on before the clock runs out?
Poppy and the Lost Lagoon by Matt Kindt and Brian Hurtt (graphic novel):
Adventure runs in Poppy Pepperton’s family! At the age of ten, Poppy is the greatest explorer since her grandfather Pappy Pepperton, traveling the globe with her trusty sidekick/legal guardian Colt Winchester. When a shrunken mummy head gives a series of clues to discover an exotic fish no one’s seen in years, adventure calls, and Poppy and Colt find themselves in the strange city of Old Macadamia, swimming alongside the gigantipus, trailed by a strange robot, and end up uncovering clues to the greater mystery of what happened to Pappy all those years ago!
The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane (mystery):
The front door is locked, kitchen door locked, living room windows closed, nobody in the closet and nobody under the bed. Still, Maggie is worried. Ever since she started middle school, she sees injustice and danger everywhere–on the news, in her textbooks, in her own neighborhood. Even her best friend seems to be changing. Maggie believes it is up to her, and only her, to make everything all right. Can she come up with a plan to keep everyone safe?
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner (fiction):
Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last. From her Mom’s new job to her sister’s life away at college, everything else always seems to be more important than Charlie’s upcoming dance competition or science project. Unsure of how to get her family’s attention, Charlie comes across the surprise of her life one day while ice-fishing . . . in the form of a floppy, scaly fish offering to grant her a wish in exchange for its freedom. Charlie can’t believe her luck until she realizes that this fish has a funny way of granting wishes, despite her best intentions. Kate Messner weaves fantasy into the ordinary, giving every reader the opportunity to experience a little magic.
Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney (fiction):
Macy Hollinquest’s birthday is just days away, but she has no intention of turning twelve without her dad by her side. He’d promised to be there for her big day, and yet he’s been gone for months after his discharge from the army, doing some kind of top secret, important work. So Macy’s staying eleven, no matter what; that is, until she meets Ginger, a nice older lady who is searching for her missing dog. Ginger’s dog search is the perfect cover for Macy’s attempt to locate her dad. But her hunt puts her on a path to a head-on collision with the truth, where she discovers that knowing can sometimes be a heavy burden.
The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald (mystery)
The third and final book in the Secret Box trilogy, a series for fans of humorous mystery capers. Who knew that insisting on opening a strange birthday present would lead to being kidnapped by an evil Greek god determined to conquer the world? Jax Malone certainly didn’t. But now she’s trapped in the back of a limo bound for Epimetheus’s secret lair. He wants to control the three ancient urns that used to belong to Pandora’s daughter. Magical urns that can suck hope, faith, and love out of the world.
The Enemy Above: A Novel of World War II by Michael Spradlin (historical fiction):
The Germans are closing in, and twelve-year-old Anton knows his family can’t outrun them. A web of underground caves seems like the perfect place to hide, but danger lurks above the surface. Anton knows if his community is discovered, they will be sent off to work camps…or worse. Spradlin’s newest thriller is the ultimate game of cat and mouse set during one of the darkest moments in history.
How to (Almost) Ruin Your Summer by Taryn Souders (fiction):
Chloe McCorkle knew a summer camp where you had to learn a career was a bad idea. She tried to tell her parents, but they just had to go on vacation to Alaska and ship her off for two weeks. It’s not ideal, but she’s going to try to make the best of it. She might even learn some skills that will help her make money for the new bike she’s been eyeing. But Chloe quickly discovers there’s only one area at which she excels; she manages to get more demerits than anyone else in camp…
Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb (fiction):
Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini’s life is changing too soon, too fast. Her best friend, Clem, doesn’t seem concerned; she’s busy figuring out the best way to spend the leap second — an extra second about to be added to the world’s official clock. The only person who might understand how Nella feels is Angela, but the two of them have gone from being secret sisters to not talking at all. Then Angela’s idolized big brother makes a terrible, fatal mistake, one that tears apart their tight-knit community and plunges his family into a whirlwind of harsh publicity and judgment. Nella must choose whether to stand by or stand up. “Springstubb admirably takes on a sensitive and difficult contemporary American issue. Sure to spark discussion in classrooms and book clubs.” (School Library Journal)
Explore Forces and Motion by Jennifer Swanson (nonfiction):
Physics becomes accessible and interactive through activities such as a experimenting with a water cup drop, building a bridge, and spotting magnetic field lines. Simple machines such as levers, pulleys, and wedges are used as vehicles for discovery and comprehension of the foundational concepts of physical science. Includes 25 great projects.
Super Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up by Jennifer Swanson (nonfiction):
How are the sports played by Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Michelle Wie, and Usain Bolt related? Nanotechnology. Take a close-up look at sports and nanotechnology, the cutting-edge science that manipulates objects at the atomic level. Nanotechnology is used to create high-tech swimsuits, tennis rackets, golf clubs, running shoes, and more. It is changing the face of sports as we know it. “A highly engaging introduction to an exciting aspect of cutting-edge, real-world science for STEM collections” — School Library Journal.
Linda Johns is the author of the Hannah West middle grade mystery series and is a librarian in Seattle, Washington. She can be found on Twitter @LJBookie and at lindajohns.net.