Posts Tagged MG nonfiction

Super Reads for Superman Day

It’s a bird; it’s a plane. It’s Superman Day here at Mixed-Up Files (and everywhere else). In 2013, DC Comics declared June 12 to be Superman Day.  To celebrate, we’ve gathered some of the greatest middle-grade reads featuring the Man of Steel, his family, and his friends. So, drop that kryptonite, don your capes, and get ready to go up up and away with these super stories.


Graphic Novels

Super Sons: The Polarshield Project by Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Ile Gonzalez. Super Sons follows Jon Kent (Superman’s son), who moves to the town of Wyndemere when the melting polar ice caps threaten the cities of Coleumbria. With his father away fighting the devastating climate change, and a mysterious illness spreading across Wyndemere, Jon teams up with Damian “Ian” Wayne and a mysterious girl named Candace to find the source of the disease and stop it from spreading. This new out-of-continuity story was one of the first titles to launch DC Zoom, the middle grade imprint of DC Comics.



Secret Hero Society by Derek Fridolfs, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. In this series, a young Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, and Clark Kent team up for middle school misadventures. The investigate a roving band of clowns, encounter a lake monster, and accidentally time travel. Other DC superhero favorites, such as Green Arrow and Cyborg, join them, and they even face some familiar villains.





Superman Family Adventures by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani. This fun series created by the Eisner Award-winning team behind Tiny Titans brings all the whole super family together. Superman teams up with Supergirl, Superboy (and his dog) to fight classic foes.






Superman: Adventures of the Man of Steel by Scott McCloud and Paul Dini, illustrated by Rick Burchett, Terry Austin, an Bret Blevins. Inspired by the 90’s cartoons, this older collection of comics was made by the show’s creators. It’s essential reading for any Superman fan!






DC Super Pets by various authors, illustrated by Art Baltazar- Even superheros have pets! This chapter book series follows the crime-fighting adventures of the pets of popular DC superheros, including Superman’s monkey Beppo. There’s also Krypto, Superboy’s dog, who appears in Superman Family Adventures, and Supergirl’s pets- a horse and a cat.





Supergirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee. When Krypton is destroyed, Supergirl lands on Earth and sent to Super Hero High. Supergirl has bad grades and trouble controlling her powers. But when an alien invasion threatens her new friends, she’ll find out what it really means to be a superhero. Based on the DC Superhero Girls series, this is a superhero story with a lot of heart.





Superman: Solar System Adventures by Steve Korte, illustrated by Dario Brizuela- When Superman’s enemies invade our solar system, he journeys to the different planets to fight them. This series infuses real science facts into superhero action.





And if you like nonfiction, check out the story of how Superman came to be.  Boys of Steel by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross Macdonald tells the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman.


A Non-fiction book birthday for our own Laurie Edwards

laurie photo Laurie Edwards is a Mixed Up Files member with a very busy month. Three of her non-fiction titles come out this month. They are all from the educational publisher Cengage and they are: Ancient Egypt, Imperial China, and West African Kingdoms. She graciously stole a few moments away from her time with a brand new grandbaby to answer my questions. Thank you and quadruple congratulations!

1) All three of your books are about the ancient world. Do you have a long standing interest in history?

Egypt coverI’ve always been fascinated by life long ago. I especially like finding out how people lived, so I enjoyed doing the research for these books. Sometimes we think that ancient people weren’t very advanced, but that isn’t true. All three of these civilizations invented items that are still used in our times, and scientists and historians are still trying to figure out how they created certain things. For example, no one knows for sure how the Egyptians built the pyramids.


My love of history also extends to fiction. I’m writing a young adult novel set in ancient China and two middle grade novels, one set in Russia during the pogroms and one set in Eastern Europe in 1050 CE. Capstone is publishing my young adult series set in the Wild West that I’m writing as Erin Johnson. The first two books, Grace and the Guiltless and Her Cold Revenge are out now, with two more to follow. I spent a lot of time doing research for all of these books.

I took a quick look at these titles and I think they’re going to be terrific for teens with a thirst for western writing which is not all that common in YA.

2)Your publisher works within the education market. How did you come to work with them? Do they assign a topic with an overall road map to the structure of the finished project or do you come up with the topic and structure yourself?

I’ve worked for Cengage, the publisher of these books, many times doing writing and editing. I started by writing short articles for them, and then later they asked me to write books. The first books I wrote for them were a biography of Rihanna, the Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, and Pirates through the Ages (yes, another history title!).

West African coverBecause these 3 new books are part of a 10-volume set, the publisher wanted them to be consistent, so they gave me topics for the chapters (e.g., Geography, Art, Transportation and Communication) and a general layout for each chapter. The chapters needed to include a brief introduction, 2-3 sidebars, a glossary, 2-3 activities, and a set of questions. I chose what material to include in each chapter.


3) What was your favorite juicy tidbit from researching these books? Did you have a particularly useful source or an unexpected one?

I like finding primary sources, which are actual documents or pictures from people who lived during that time. The Chinese and Egyptians both kept good records of events, so I read translations of many ancient documents. We also included some as sidebars in the books. The West Africans didn’t have a written language for much of the period the book covered, which meant that their primary sources were the griots, or storytellers, who memorized all their history.

China coverOne of my favorite documents was a list of rules from an ancient Chinese boarding school. Instead of bells, they used clappers. The first time the clappers sounded, students woke and washed. By the second round of clappers, they needed to be dressed in their robes. After that, they bowed to their teachers. They then followed a whole list of rules, many of which sound like classroom rules today, such as sitting properly, writing neatly, keeping desks tidy, and not eavesdropping. Students took turns washing the floor at the end of each day. Some different rules included never taking off their caps, socks, or shoes even in their rooms, and never going to bed before their elders.

Other fun sources were a list of rules from a Chinese pirate ship run by a woman and descriptions of Egyptian mummification. I also discovered ancient recipes, poems, stories, plays, jokes, and paintings showing daily life. Many of these can be found in the sidebars.

I love this! The combination of familiar rules–like write neatly–with completely wacky rules–like don’t go to bed until all the grownups are asleep and never take off your shoes! You’re a natural at making history engaging.

4) Do you do something special with the MG audience in mind?

Because MG readers are curious, I try to find unusual and interesting facts that will surprise them. But I also like to show that children from long ago have are like modern children in many ways. Knowing that ancient children disobeyed their parents, disliked school, or skipped their chores makes them more real and relatable.

5) I’ve only done a little bit of writing for educational publishers and it has been a while. If a person was interested in writing for the educational market what advice would you give them?

Educational writing is strongly tied to the core curriculum, so having some experience as a teacher or some knowledge of the expectations for the various grade levels is important. Rather than coming up with your own topics, you need to be willing to write books on the subjects that the publishers need or want. To get work in this field, check what publishers are looking for freelance writers and follow their guidelines. Many request a resume and a sample chapter. If they think your writing is suitable for their imprints, they may assign you a book or even a series.

6) Do you have a favorite MG non-fiction title or two you’d like to share?

Two nonfiction authors whose books I love are Candace Fleming and Susan Bartoletti. All of their books are well worth reading.

Here are the two most recent titles by these two authors.18691014


Thanks again for sharing Laurie. Happy book birthday and happy  birthday to your new grandchild!