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EUGENE YELCHIN STEPHEN MOOSER ADAM SIDWELL Meet The Expeditioners Indie Books to Wow! You 6 New Book Excerpts

He came. He cloned.

They conquered. The Clone Chronicles M.E. Castle

“A funny James Bond for the middle school set.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An amusing and action-packed adventure.” —Publishers Weekly

“An action-packed success.” —Kirkus Reviews


Margaret Brown fo u n d e r a n d p u b l i sh e r Laurisa White Reyes e d i tor i n ch i e f

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Illustration: Anni Moon & the Elemental Artifact by Melanie Abed


january/february 2015 contents


a word from the editor


themed books: indie books


cool reads for cool kids


teak & lara’s reviews


on our shelf

40 novelty 6

stephen mooser interview with the author of Class Clown Academy


adam sidwell interview with the author of Chum


debut author interview with melanie abed


under the covers with author/illustrator eugene yelchin


character spotlight an interview with The Expeditioners

Images from The Expeditioners by S.S. Taylor and Nnewts by Doug TenNapel


graphic novel




publisher’s corner


best of the book blogs




last words



On the cover: Illustration by Eugene Yelchin from Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

a word from the



ach new year brings with it opportunities for new goals, new dreams, new horizons. It’s a chance to reflect on what we’ve accomplished during the previous year—or to start over and try again. There are many things I’d like to work on in 2015, including making Middle Shelf Magazine even better. To kick things off, this issue turns the spotlight on a group of books that don’t always get as much attention as they deserve—independently published books, or indies. An indie means that the book was published by the author rather than a traditional publishing company. Our three guest authors are all indie authors, including the amazing and very funny Stephen Mooser, who has also published more than 60 traditional books. Our themed section introduces eight new indie books readers will be sure to love. We have plenty of new and exciting titles from many traditional publishers as well. Russian-born Newbery Honor author & illustrator, Eugene Yelchin, tells us about his newest book, Arcady’s Goal, and we’ve included excerpts from six books that are perfect for starting a new year of reading. Our reviewers, Teak & Lara, have two wonderful new stories to share with you—the second book in the Sky Jumpers series and a touching tale called The Question of Miracles. Finally, you won’t want to miss a special visit with The Expeditioners, an exhilarating, globe-trotting adventure series. There are plenty of great books here to help you start 2015 off right. Happy New Year & happy reading! Laurisa White Reyes editor-in-chief

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author interview

Stephen Mooser


uring the summer, the Class Clown Academy opens for twelve days to let class clowns brush up on their skills. The Class Clown Academy is a special place that keeps our educational system afloat, a unique institution that requires a steady supply of dedicated jokers—people who aren’t afraid to propel a classroom of students out of their seats and onto the floor, howling with laughter. In this book you’ll get a first-hand peek at what it takes to gain the school credits necessary to be an official class clown. 6


Class Clown Academy by Stephen Mooser, Rick Reese (Illustrator)

Ages 8-12 Class Clown Academic Press

Middle Shelf: Tell us about Class Clown Academy. Mooser: I like to describe the book as Wayside School meets Animal House. Each of the chapters follow a fourth grade class as they learn various Class Clown skills over a 12-day summer session. Much of the book can also be found and is expanded on the accompanying Interactive Virtual School, MS: What are some of the classes offered at Class Clown Academy? Mooser: Between the book and the website, students can master the telling of jokes and riddles, critique and view funny films, have food fights, and conduct weird science experiments. In the book you can take a field trip to a whoopee cushion factory, and on the website, play and record music produced by whoopee cushions. MS: Were you a class clown? Mooser: Yes, and in connection with the book, I’m starting to organize an association of past, present, and future class clowns. In a recent blog post I wrote how teachers too often associate class clowns with disruptive students. Those are not class clowns. The true class clown is a funny person who keeps things on a light note. If you read comedian biographies you will see that most began their careers working the room in the third grade, and often because they had been bullied or

socially marginalized. One reason I ended up self-publishing was because publishers rejected the book because they believed teachers did not like class clowns—and teachers do influence book buying. MS: As the author of more than 60 books for kids, which one was the most challenging to write? Why? Mooser: I found the first book in each series difficult because you have to introduce the characters in a compelling way while also keeping your eye on how that character can have an important role to play throughout a multi-book series. Once you have accomplished setting the scene and the characters, the stories almost write themselves. In talks, I sometimes challenge audiences to come up with a funny situation or setting—a landfill, a bus broken down in a wild animal park, or a locked amusement park, for instance, then drop the cast of Seinfeld into the story. 7

situation—particularly if a braggart about his skills—like clumsy dancer, weightlifter, or inept magician, for instance. (3) Reversal of roles—a scaredy cat who finds himself guarding a haunted house, or the famous MS: How hard is it to write funny chef judging a junk food contest. books? Can you give us some tips? Mooser: For me, I can’t help myself. Even MS: What inspires you to write? when I have tried to do something seri- Mooser: I can sometimes go for long ous, I throw in something weird or funny. periods without writing.  But always, in A few years before Goosebumps, I wrote the back of my head, I know, intellectually, a series called The Creepy Creature Club. what an amazing place awaits me when I loved doing them; they sold fairly well, I disappear into an intense bit of writing. but when it came to something really I’m sure that’s true for anyone working in scary I just couldn’t do it then, or today. a creative field.  That’s what inspires me One of the books, for instance, was called to write—though it also doesn’t hurt to Night of The Vampire Kitty. A silly book come up with a great idea—where those in which a kitten, its mouth red from eat- ideas come from I don’t know—but as a ing something like pomegranate seeds, speaker at one of our conferences once dashes into a clubhouse during a rain- said, “Where do I get my ideas? I don’t storm.  Years later, my son discovered a know, but if I did, I’d go there more often.” review from some older guy who was into   vampire books, had taken it seriously, and MS: Are you working on another book? declared it and the author the worst ever. Mooser: I’m three quarters of the way If you are Humor Challenged, there are through another Class Clown Academy some plot situations that lend themselves book. Again, it’s all mostly short, primarily to humor: (1) Incongruity—the football player stand-alone chapters, and at this point I in the ballet studio. Think “Arnold Schwar- don’t believe I will self-publish it but may zenegger in Kindergarten Cop.” (2) Putting end up posting the chapters one by one an unlikeable character in an uncomfortable in the Class Clown Academy library. Those characters are so well drawn that you can’t help but come up with a funny story. So, the hard part is the first part—the first book—maybe even the first chapter.

“Even when I have tried to do something serious, I throw in something weird or funny.” 8


One of the most INNOVATIVE and CUTTING-EDGE publishers of books for children and young adults.

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Contemporary Native American Voices A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.

Escape from Tibet A True Story

Two brothers face cruelty, hardship, and hope, on the ultimate journey in search of freedom.

The End of the Line Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland.

To This Day

For the Bullied and the Beautiful An authentic rallying cry for anyone who has been affected by bullying.



author interview

Adam Sidwell L

evi insists he’s got a destiny, even if half the Internet’s tried to bully it out of him with a viral video. When a Hollywood executive invites Levi to star in a reality TV show aboard a hi-tech pirate ship, Levi thinks his destiny’s finally come a knockin’—a bit of fame is exactly what he needs to finally make some friends his eighth grade year. But almost as soon as they set sail, the games aboard the ship turn savage, and he and his new bud, Holly, must do everything they can to win—since losing means getting thrown to the sharks.

Middle Shelf: Hi Adam. Tell us about your new book Chum. Adam Sidwell: Chum is a story born of my fear of being eaten by sharks. It’s also born of my love for the sea. The two are in constant conflict. Almost every day of the last summer I lived in Los Angeles, I’d swim out into the Pacific. It was the only place where I could get away from it all, but with that freedom comes a very real danger—sharks. I’m very aware of the statistics—there’s such a slim chance you’ll ever be attacked. But tell that to the guy who’s just had his legs bitten off. So I am fascinated by the majesty and the danger of the sea’s most dangerous predator. 10


Chum by Adam Sidwell

Ages 10+ Future House Publishing

MS: The story is inspired by reality TV. Is there a particular show(s) that gave you the idea? Sidwell: A couple of different shows gave me the idea, but more of the Hollywood experience in general. I was an extra in a film. I went to some auditions. I sat in on a live studio taping of a show where everyone was gushing adoration for stars I didn’t even recognize. It was like everyone in Hollywood had a hope—if I can just get close enough to someone famous, somehow they’ll discover me, realize how amazing I am, touch me with their golden Oscar, and I’ll turn famous too. Los Angeles is an entire city (and economy) built on impossible hopes and dreams. It was a setting and paradigm ripe for the picking. MS: Why all the smiley faces on the cover? Sidwell: It was rendered in 3D by Chris I just had to write about it. Harvey, a technical artist who worked for MS: You work on movies, don’t you? Pixar. The smiley faces are there because What exactly do you do, and what mov- the story revolves around small robotic toys with large smiley face heads called Chums. ies have you worked on? Sidwell: I’m a Creature Technical Director. It was natural to put them on the cover, and In short, that means I get to make mon- it made for a frightening juxtaposition when sters, robots, and zombies for movies. For they were surrounded by sharks! example, I built (using 3D software) a couple of Decepticons in Transformers II, some MS: What’s next for you? Are you robots in I, Robot, some digital characters working on another book? in Tron, and a couple of Jaegers in Pacific Sidwell: I’m starting soon on the World Rim. For a while, I specialized in things that of Warcraft film based on the omniprestry to kill Will Smith. I’ve also worked on ent MMPOG of the same name. I’m about King Kong, Zoom, Pirates of the Caribbean 1/3 of the way finished with the next III, I Am Legend, Speed Racer, The Curious Evertaster book, Evertaster: The DeliCase of Benjamin Button, Thor, Ender’s cious City, so it will be a good chance to recharge. Game, and a couple of commercials. 11


debut author interview

Melanie Abed A

nni doesn’t know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and least of all, Dragons. All that changes when her best friend Lexi is kidnapped, and forces beyond Anni’s control trap her on a hidden, floating island in the Elemental world. In a race against time, Anni sets out to save her friend. Along the way, she finds allies among the Elementals, but she is also presented with a choice, one that might help save Lexi. If Anni agrees to an ancient, open-ended contract, will her sacrifice cost her more than she’s bargained for? Or will it land her in the middle of an age-old war between the humans, Elementals, and the dreaded Fectus?

Middle Shelf: Anni Moon boasts a cast full of exciting characters. Who are two of your favorites? Melanie Abed: I adore Anni for her unwavering courage and loyalty to her best friend, Lexi. Throughout the story, Anni’s actions and choices reveal these traits. However, she is far from perfect, and her imperfections make her more interesting. Lexi is just as brave and loyal, but her general approach is more silent and steadfast. At first glance, Lexi appears innocent and meek, but 12


Anni Moon & the Elemental Artifact by Melanie Abed, Hisham Abed (illustrator)

Ages 8-12 Oculus Pictures, Inc

as the story unravels we see how brave and determined she is, and how Lexi is determined to do whatever she can to protect those that she loves. MS: How is the Elemental world different from our own? Abed: The Elemental world is a fantastical world, extremely different and more diverse than what we humans are used to. In book one, we only get a taste of the Elemental world through the Wood realm where we see Elementals living on a Zephyr, and how they use Queen’s mirrors and paintings for travel, as well as TreeTransport in the Elemental transportation hub of LimBough. Food is also very different in the Elemental world. Elementals all require different diets based on where they live, which element they are, and how much Funk they are exposed to, but fortunately a steady diet of tonics, tinctures, and concoctions of essences will help eliminate Funk over time. MS: What do you want to be when you “grow up”? Abed: Great question! I’ve decided that growing up is not so important. In fact, I’d like to grow down, without losing my height, of course. I have one small rule, and that is that I must find a way to play every single day. Thinking back, all I ever wanted to do as a child was grow up, but I find that there is a world of wisdom living inside all chil-

dren and a very special hope that lingers in their hearts in a simple, yet profound way. It is my mission in life to continue to nurture my childlike sensibilities every day. MS: Whiffle is a dragon in Anni Moon. Do you have a favorite dragon from a book or movie? Abed: As a child, most of the tales I was exposed to involved dragons reminiscent of the Hobbit’s Smaug, a wonderful, stereotypical, hoarding, and greedy monster. Smaug was my favorite kind of dragon until I started to envision a different kind of dragon, which is what Whiffle is, only I can’t entirely say without revealing spoilers. However, over the years I’ve discovered other favorites: Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwockey, depictions of dragons in Asian folklore, Michael Ende’s Neverending Story, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, and most recently Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina. 13

themed books:

INDIE BOOKS TO WOW! YOU The Endangered Files: The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda Wooly Family Studios

Ages 8-12


f you’re looking for trouble, you’ve found it. The name’s Jake G. Panda, and trouble seems to follow me wherever I go. I work in the protection racket at a flophouse for endangered critters called the Last Resort. I’m the hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It’s my job to keep these guests safe and outta harm’s way. This is the first of my many misadventures, a wild and woolly mystery involving a lost suitcase, a green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing animals. I’m calling it The Case of the Cursed Dodo. This hilarious first installment of The Endangered Files follows Jake, a hardboiled panda detective, and an unusual cast of endangered creatures on a globe-trotting adventure that will appeal to young and old alike.



Tommy Black and the Staff of Light by Jake Kerr Currents & Tangents Press

Ages 10+


or fourteen-year-old Tommy Black, nothing is worse than being raised by an overprotective grandfather in the city that never sleeps. That is until his grandfather is captured by magical creatures and Tommy has to save him with his family’s magical staff. That wouldn’t be so bad, but the only magic he can do with the staff is weak—making light. What the heck can you do with light? Tommy finds out as he fights golems, shadow creatures, and djinn in a journey that features a magical river, an enchanted train, and an illusionary fortress. But the worst part of all? Tommy has to save his grandfather with the help of Naomi, a girl whose talent with magic is only rivaled by her ability to hurl insults.

INDIE BOOKS TO WOW! YOU Earthlings by Frick Weber Films & Comics

Ages 8-12


very 100,000 years or so, the Essences of the Earth convene in a Great Council. Often times this meeting is held to determine if the inhabiting species of the planet are worthy of the very air they breathe. The last time this council met, it resulted in an ice age. Once again, the Essences of the Earth are ticked off. And with a vote looming on the horizon, even the Great Council is not immune to the deceit and hidden agendas of politics. Now the only thing standing in the way of another “extinction event” is the political maneuvering and adventures of three children.

Crispin Scales and the Golden Pearl by Ruby Blessing Mighty Ink Publishing

Ages 9-12


rispin Scales is the clumsiest dragon in the Realm. Unfortunate – because an ancient spell has chosen him to save the world, embedding a golden pearl in his chest to prove it. When his best friend, the Princess Marlo, is kidnapped by King Gary and his side-kick, the evil armoured dragon Lux, Crispin reluctantly teams up with the rebellious witch, Chance, to try and save her. Together they travel across the Realm, where Crispin makes the ultimate sacrifice as he chooses between power and friendship. All standard stuff really—except Crispin must first learn to control his magic, escape a pack of hungry bloodhounds, and get past the two-headed dragon. Oh, and it would be quite helpful if he could avoid being killed. Something he’s not particularly good at. 15

themed books:

INDIE BOOKS TO WOW! YOU The Awakening by Dorine White Skyrocket Press

ages 10+


ightmares really do come true, and for Kyler Birkwood, they are just beginning. Raised on a farm by his Aunt Martha, Kyler has no clue about the magical heritage swimming through his blood. When he discovers evidence of a mythical creature, a terrifying beast thought only to exist in fairy tales, his safe world shatters. Left at a school of magic to hunt for clues, he is overwhelmed and disbelieved. As loved ones begin disappearing and Orcs roam the land, Kyler must undergo a journey that takes him from the High Courts of the King to the unknown forests of the East. His magic just awakening, Kyler is the lone hope for a world that will not listen.



Lucy and Cecee’s How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School by Kimberly Dana

ages 8-12


ime to put the freakout on pause because outgoing, boy-crazy Lucy Pringle and shy, studious, bespectacled CeCee Cruz have the goods on how to make middle school the best three years ever! Lucy and CeCee—the official self-proclaimed Madison Heights Middle School experts on how to deal with haters, hormones, and hot lunch dilemmas—are ready to demystify swirlie urban legends and dish about academic and social topics. They’re keeping it real, lacing diary entries with their own daily escapades regarding skater slacker boyfriend crushes, BFF shopping trips to the mall, and BEE (Bitter Eternal Enemies) text wars. The two seventh graders swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the help them Good Fairy of Popularity.


Seven Days to Goodbye

by Brooke Burgess

by Sheri S. Levy

BRP Publishing

ages 9-12

ages 9-12



n the sleepy town of Appleton, a young loner follows a stray cat onto the road and is struck by a car. A leg is shattered, a summer is ruined, and the troubled life of Billy Brahm goes from cursed. When the mysterious cat appears at his bedside, Billy is haunted by strange and prophetic dreams. Does this impossible realm hold the key to healing the broken boy? Is the golden-eyed cat there to help him...or to make the nightmares come true? Too frightened to share the truth with his strict adoptive parents, Billy realizes that the only ones he can turn to are the local vet’s daughter, the town’s ‘crazy cat lady’, and a mystical tiger, beckoning from his dreams.

fter Trina’s beloved dog dies, she swears she’ll never get another one. But then she learns about service dogs, and realizes that if she becomes a Puppy Raiser, she could train puppy after puppy and never worry about them dying. But like all great ideas, this one has a serious flaw: her first service puppy must be returned to his kennel at the end of their week-long summer vacation... and saying goodbye to Sydney is going to be much tougher than she ever imagined. It’s hard enough to deal with loosing Sydney, but now she may lose her best friend, too. And even if she manages to patch things up with Sarah. she still must face a daunting decision: is she strong enough to take on another service puppy?












KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.









Ages 8-12 Animas Book One: Legacy of the Claw by C.R. Grey Disney-Hyperion |


hi, what’s going on?” Bailey asked. “The game is over—what are you doing?” “It’s Carin,” she said. “She has something.” He stood next to Phi, who pointed up. The falcon was circling closely above them, and she sounded a screech before landing gracefully on the leather gauntlets on Phi’s outstretched left arm and plucking a loose feather from her chest. Something fell from the falcon’s talons. Bailey reached out just in time to catch it before it hit the ground. The Roanoake Slammer walked over to them, gaping at Carin. “What in Nature is that, a knife?” the Slammer said. What it was was a claw—a huge one that spanned the entire length of Bailey’s outstretched hand. The blunt base of the claw was rough with dried blood that looked like it had been there for a long time. But Bailey noticed that the tip of the claw ended in a menacing point. “Wow,” Bailey said. “Ants,” said the Slammer. Phi said nothing, but her eyes widened as big as dinner plates. Bailey handed it to Phi, who held it up in the sunlight. “It looks ancient,” she whispered. The other players began to head back to the warm-up areas. The Roanoake Slammer cast one last curious look at the claw before jogging to meet his teammates. “Should we show Coach?” Phi asked. “Not yet,” Bailey whispered, standing

between Phi and the other students. He thought once more about the clean, deep wounds in the dead bear’s hide, and the shadowy figures between the trees at the edge of the Dark Woods. If those men had weapons like this, if they’d been the ones to kill the bear so close to the school—as a warning, or a threat?—then the claw was too important to simply hand over. Animas: Legacy of the Claw. Copyright © 2014 by C.R. Grey. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion.




Ages 8-12 Arrgh! by Stacey R. Campbell Gemelli Press |


hoo,” Christopher whispered, pushing the cats away. He stripped off his fish-riddled coat and crawled to the next pallet as a third cat wandered their way. A hissing battle commenced. The crate hiding Christopher shifted. “And what do we have here?” The man in the boots sneered. Christopher turned, but the words he wanted to speak lodged in his throat as the blade of a saber brushed the side of his face. “I asked ye a question, boy. I expect ye to be answer’n.” Christopher choked, but still no words came.
 “Cat got yer tongue?” asked the thin giant’s friend. Stinky was shorter by a head, rounder by half and covered in filth. Earrings dangled from both sides of his head, and a long waxed mustache spun to his ears. “Kill ’em!” Boots ordered. “He done heard what we said.” Christopher’s eyes widened as the round man cocked his pistol. A group of children ran across the start of the lane. “Your work is not done! Come back here!” their mother yelled. “Wait,” Boots said, raising his hand. “I got me an idea.” He stroked his chin. “A healthy young boy could be useful, if not worth somethin’ when we reach the Caribbean. Two bags of gold at very least.” “He’s thin,” Stinky snorted.
 “He’ll grow.”

“But what happens if he opens his yap?” Stinky asked, bringing the butt of his pistol down on Christopher’s head. Christopher crumbled to the ground. Stinky placed his pistol back into the scarlet sash tied around his waist. Boots shrugged. “We’ll cut out his tongue.” Arrgh! Copyright © 2014 by Stacey R. Campbell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gemelli Press.





Ages 8-12 The Disappearing: The Briny Deep Mysteries, Book I by Jennifer Torres Enslow Publishing |

Every night Tim runs for his life. Through a sticker bush, onto a dirt path, his lungs straining for air as he pushes ahead down a small hill. Faster now. The man pursuing him is close; he can hear twigs snap under heavy feet, pounding into the grass just behind him. Ahead, a patch of flowers and a yellow house, if he can just get there, but then he remembers he won’t make it. He never does. The rock, hidden in the grass, is steps away. Tim trips, landing on his knees, a strong hand grips his shoulder, pulling him away again. It was a nightmare he could do without. Yet here he was again, sitting straight up in bed, sweaty, gasping for air, forced out of a sound sleep at the same moment in the dream every time. He exhaled, then lying back down with hands clasped behind his head, Tim silently considered telling his mom he might need to talk to someone about this. The whole thing was getting ridiculous already. Soon enough his eyes grew heavy, his breathing deep, then . . . BANG—BANG—BANG! Tim jumped to his feet. Someone was here, and they wanted in. Within moments, he could hear his parents’ bedroom door swing open, their feet moving quickly down the steps. In his head, one thought screamed out:

Don’t open it! Tim slipped out his door, into the hallway, and peered down the staircase just in time to see his father open the front door. It was the police. “Sorry to bother you at this hour, but there has been an incident,” said a giant, burly man with dark eyes. “Can we talk for a moment?” The Disappearing. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Torres. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Enslow Publishing.




Ages 10-14 The Fat Boy Chronicles by Diane Lang & Michael Buchanan Sleeping Bear Press | |


iddle school stunk big time. I mean the “stink up the toilet” kind of stunk. Worse than a garbage dump. You know, where you’re picked on every day because you’re the big fat kid with the Harry Potter glasses that are too small for your big fat face. And you’re forced to wear those XXL rugby shirts that are made for overweight kids with big fat bodies. It was that bad. No kidding. Rough is not the word for it. I tried to laugh off the fat jokes and the “let’s make fun of Jimmy” free-for-alls, but nothing ever changed. Other than my “fun-filled” days at school, I spent my 8th grade year in my room studying and playing games on the Internet. I only had one real friend—Paul Grove. But, his class schedule got all messed up, so I hardly saw him at school. Besides, he was suspended half the time. Just when I thought I was doomed to another year of “Not-So-Slim-Jimmy,” we moved one school district away. That means I’ll have a chance to start all over and meet new people and make new friends. I can’t wait for high school because nobody knows me there. My sister will be a junior this year, and she says high school is much better. Jessica thinks most guys act like dorks in middle school. My parents think she’s a saint. They have no idea what a wild child she is. They can be so clueless sometimes. Maybe I really will make new friends

this year. Maybe I’ll even have someone to sit with at lunch. Mom says tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life. Duh, no kidding. It’s at least the first day of my high school life. It has to be better than that garbage dump I went to last year. Mom also says that hope springs eternal. She’s big on clichés. I just hope she’s right. The Fat Boy Chronicles. Copyright © 2010 by Diane Lang & Michael Buchanan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press.





Ages 8-12 The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood Scholastic, Inc. | |


here’s a piano somewhere, and I’m holding my breath listening. Exactly two weeks ago, May 3, 1974, I was playing Happy Birthday to my grandmother on our rickety living room piano. By then, she didn’t remember much. But she sang all the words to that song. And while I was trying to pretend like it was fine and dandy that my uncle was dragging me away, Granddaddy was bawling his eyes out. That was the last time I touched a piano key. My grandparents’ farm? Sold. The old piano went wherever the furniture ended up. And me? Theo M. Thomas. Previously destined to be a famous musician or maybe a big leaguer? I packed my entire life in a suitcase and a knapsack and pretended like the uncle I’d never laid eyes on wasn’t swearing we’d never set foot in Kentucky again. Hearing the music drift up the stairs, I grab the hall banister tight. Every single note waltzes straight to my insides and makes me want to play along. Okay so I’ve left behind my friends, my grandparents, and the farm I’d lived on pretty much all my life. My new room’s above a tap dance studio next door to a five-year-old pain in the butt. What’s worse, an uncle I hardly know speaks to me mostly when he’s barking out orders. But before tiptoeing back down the dark

hall, I’ve decided there’s one good thing about being hauled off to Destiny, Florida. Tomorrow I’ll find that piano. The Way to Stay in Destiny. Copyright © 2015 by Augusta Scattergood. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Scholastic, Inc.




Ages 8-12 Tom Gates Excellent Excuses by Liz Pichon Candlewick Press | |

ve n th ough I on ly l i ve fou r mi n ute s away fro m my sc h ool , I’m ofte n late .


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on t h e way. Someti me s

it ’s b e c a u se we get di stracted by de l i c i ou s fr u it c h ew s

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at t h e s h op.

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l i ste n ed to mu si c

P lay ed my gu it ar


Rolled out of bed (slow ly) Loo k ed for soc ks Loo k ed for c loth e s P lay ed some more gu itar R eal i zed I h adn ’t don e my “su mmer readi n g h o m ework”

Run p a st D e l ia ( w h o’s st ill


wa it in g out side t h e bat h room a n d qu ite c ross

– th ought of

now ) . Igno re h e r

Tomsiste Gates Excellent Excuses. r ly love . REEP!Copyright © 2015S ave by Liz Pichon. by permission of p re c iou s t im e Reproduced by : Not bCandlewick r u sh in g h a ir Press. the publisher,

good excu se for lac k of h omew ork (p h ew !). A nnoy ed my si ste r, D el ia. Wh i c h I admit did t ak e u p a very L ARGE c h u n k of th e morn i n g ( t i m e we l l sp e nt , th ough ). H id D e l ia ’s su n glasses. Too k my comi c i nto th e bath room to read

Not b r u sh in g te et h ( for ve ry lo n g )

( w h i le D el ia waited outside — Ha! Ha!). Wh en

Not k issin g M o m good- by e

M o m s h out s . . .

( Too old fo r a l l t h at k in d of t h in g. ) 3

TOMGATES1_74724_HI_US.indd 3




Eat t h e la st p ie c e of toa st , t h e n grab my p ac k ed l u nc h a n d my b ik e . S h out

to a ny o n e w h o c a n COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 6/2/14 3:09 PM

h ea r m e .


T h e n b ik e to sc h ool in ab out t w o m in ute s flat .

“Those who like unusual ghost stories without the usual horror will enjoy this book.” —Publishers Weekly

Available at

“A fast-paced plot and intricate world pull the reader along.” —Booklist

Available at

Belladonna Johnson just wants to be normal. Okay, she can talk to ghosts, but everyone has their problems. And since her parents are dead—but “living” in their house—this is a pretty convenient problem to have. Then one day, the stars go out. Just for a second. And the ghosts start to disappear ... Soon Belladonna and her friend Steve find themselves on a dangerous quest to the deserted, decaying Other World, where the spirits usually dwell. They need to find out where Belladonna’s parents and all the other ghosts have gone—before it’s too late.


TEAK recommends Ages 8-12

Teak Balena is 14 years old and in the 8th grade. His favorite books are The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. His other interests include chess and soccer. Teak wants to either be an architect or a lawyer. His dreams never end, and he is always looking for an adventure.



Sky Jumpers: The Forbidden Flats by Peggy Eddleman

Random House Children’s Books [Review] The Forbidden Flats is a futuristic novel with adventure, thrill, and tension. Before World War III, a new development occurred: green bombs. Green bombs are about ten times stronger than a tactical nuke, minus the radiation. During the war, green bombs were used all over the world. Unfortunately, they released a toxic gas, Bomb’s Breath, into the atmosphere. The story is about a daring 12-year-old girl named Hope. She has been in many adventures already, but this just might be too much for her to handle. I was doubtful that this book would be worth reading. Usually sequels are confusing and make no sense if you haven’t read the first book. But I literally had to force myself to put it down! I was amazed about how descriptive the novel was. I also fell in love with the fact that the main character, Hope, was so relatable. She shows that size and age are not everything.

LARA’S reads Ages 9-12

The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [Review] Iris recently moved to Corvallis, Oregon, and she couldn’t be any more depressed than she already was because of the death of her best friend Sarah. Iris longs to see Sarah again just one more time. As Iris approaches her new school and classmates, she’s not looking for friends. But she meets Boris and just sits with him so she doesn’t have to sit alone. She starts to learn more about him and his medical miracle. Iris realizes that only certain people get miracles while others do not. Iris wonders about the mysteries and miracles of life, and if she could speak to her friend again. This book has humor, mystery, and heart. I enjoyed Iris’s adventure in wanting to talk to her friend again, and I felt I could really connect to Iris. This book had me crying and laughing, and I simply could not put it down. It is truly an amazing read.

Twelve-year-old Lara Marcus runs a monthly book club in her home town, has her own book review blog, and writes for her school paper. In addition to being a professional actress (you might have seen her on your favorite Disney Channel show), she also hopes to publish her own books one day. Lara’s Blog:



COVERS with Eugene Yelchin


ugene Yelchin didn’t start off as an award-winning author & illustrator. His journey began decades ago in Russia when, as a young boy, he was making his own books in his overcrowded communal apartment. Life in a communist country helped to shape his Newbery honor book, Breaking Stalin’s Nose, and his latest story, Arcady’s Goal. Come with us Under the Covers and explore the life and work of Eugene Yelchin.



As soon as I could hold a pencil, I began to draw. Soviet Russia where I was born was a perilous place to a growing child, so drawing provided a safe heaven. My pictures depicted fictional worlds full of adventure and risk-taking yet perfectly safe because it was not our communist leaders but I who controlled the outcome. By the time I was ten, I was writing and illustrating my own books with character types and genre tropes lifted from adventure books I found in my dad’s library.


Official Soviet art was strictly realistic, and intuitively I resisted a formal art training. I knew that in an art school I would be taught by imitating reality, but Soviet reality was so oppressive that I had no desire to imitate it. Instead, I gravitated toward theatre, a place of magic and imagination. I graduated from St. Petersburg Academy of Theatre Arts and became a stage designer. I worked for wonderfully old, esteemed stage companies in St. Petersburg, but also with my Academy peers, co-founded a children’s repertoire theater in Siberia.



At 27, I left Russia and came to the United States. I couldn’t speak English, but my art portfolio that I brought along spoke for me. At one of my first job interviews, a Boston Globe art director, assuming that theatre designs in my portfolio were book illustrations, gave me my first illustration assignment. By the time my English vocabulary reached the middle grade level, I had created hundreds of illustrations for magazines and newspapers, developed advertising campaigns (CocaCola Polar Bears), directed TV commercials, and designed characters for animated movies (Rango). 31

When I finally began writing and illustrating books for children, I felt that same feeling of safety I had felt in my own childhood. Once again, I was creating fictional worlds full of adventure and risk-taking yet perfectly safe because it was I who controlled the outcome. Being a painter and illustrator and having worked in film, advertising, and theatre gave me confidence that if I worked very, very hard I could make a good book. But when it came to creating book covers, I realized that in addition to confidence, I also needed plenty of endurance.



While I was working out the concept for Breaking Stalin’s Nose, I made a drawing (now in Wende Museum of Cold War) of my hero Sasha Zaichik crossing the Red Square in Moscow to warn comrade Stalin about the arrest of Sasha’s father. When the book was finished (called Stalin’s Nose then) many cover designs were considered but rejected until my original drawing resurfaced and was approved as a cover. I had to redraw the picture—Kremlin was sent to the back and St. Basil’s cupolas moved to the front to make it plain that my story took place in Russia.


The designs for Arcady’s Goal cover reflected manuscript changes. Originally, the story culminated on the first day of the 1941 Nazi invasion of Russia. Later, birds became an important metaphor, and for a while, Arcady’s nickname was Sparrow. Soccer was always at the core of the story, so I explored kicking the ball in every possible variation. Once, Arcady was kicking it into an approaching lightning storm, and later right at the viewer. I drew the final image in graphite on paper, but painted it digitally. After revising Arcady’s face for about a million times, I finally had the cover.



My next novel is a funny/sad/scary story set in 1891 in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia. What will be on the cover is still a vague vision in my mind’s eye. Creating it will be another long journey requiring hard work, endurance and trust in myself. But I am not worried. I know that when I’ll get to work, I will feel as I felt when I was that little kid in the Soviet Union, safely cradled in the imagined world of my own making.


on our shelf

The Girls of Gettysburg by Bobbi Miller

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Holiday House

Feiwel & Friends

Ages 8–12


race, a free black girl, audaciously remains in Gettysburg despite her father’s wishes to send her away during the fighting. Tillie, her neighbor, is a silly girl who does not comprehend the severity of the war until rebels surround her home. Annie is a thirteenyear-old who disguises herself as a boy in order to march north as a Confederate soldier on her fallen brothers’ behalf. Grace, Annie, and Tillie begin to truly understand the significance of the American Civil War only when they are fully immersed in it, but readers will understand this part of history like never before. Fast-paced and heart wrenching, The Girls of Gettysburg is a must-read for any budding history buffs.



Ages 9–12 AnnMMartinAuthor


eing a fifth grader with Asperger’s is difficult, but Rose’s dog, Rain (Reign, Rein), makes life just a little easier for her. While at school her quirky habits and obsessions are looked upon with judgment, Rain only offers Rose unconditional love. But a super storm hits and sweeps Rain away after Rose’s father leaves her outside. Now Rose’s structured life becomes chaotic as she searches for her beloved dog. A story full of heart and tragedy, Rain Reign is a true testament to Ann M. Martin’s beautiful approach to sensitive topics. Rose’s love for her best friend makes her relatable to us all.

Maddy West and the Tongue Taker by Brian Falkner Donovan Bixley (Illustrator)

The Terrible Two by Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell (Illustrator) Amulet Books

Capstone Press

Holiday House

Ages 8-12

Ages 8–12


M addy is special nine-year-old who has the ability to speak every language in the world, past and present. When she is spotlighted on a news show, her wild ride begins. Maddy’s spunky attitude brings this story to life. Readers can’t help but be taken in by her honesty and friendliness. True friendship is a major theme throughout the tale. Leaving his family and stowing aboard the plane to protect Maddy is her Japanese friend, Kazuki. Together they inspire goodness and take on the wacky and weird that keeps coming straight at them. A truly adventurous tale of magic and humor that will keep middle graders engaged to the last page. iles Murphy was the top prankster at his old school, but now he’s the new kid in town and that title is already taken by a mystery prankster. After being blamed for messing with the principal’s car, Miles is determined to out-prank his rival. What results is a comical showdown between Miles and his arch nemesis in some of the funniest gags to ever grace the pages of a book. The Terrible Two is laugh-out-loud hilarious. The illustrations are a crackup! I’m in love with the cow. Yes, the COW! Fans of Captain Underpants and Diary of Wimpy Kid will be enthralled. If you read one funny book this year, this should be it. Really. It’s that good. 37

character spotlight Ages 10-14 McSweeny’s




S.S. Taylor

omputers have failed, electricity is extinct, and the race to discover new lands is underway! In this nail-bitingly thrilling adventure novel, brilliant explorer Alexander West has just died under mysterious circumstances, but not before smuggling half of a strange map to his intrepid children—Kit, the brain, M. K., the tinkerer, and Zander, the brave. Why are so many government agents trying to steal the half-map? What powerful secrets does it hold? And where is the other half? It’s up to Alexander’s children— the Expeditioners—to get to the bottom of these questions, and fast.

Middle Shelf: Hi Zander, Kit & M.K. Welcome to Middle Shelf. So, which of you is the one in charge? M.K.: Well, me of course, because I’m the one who invents the gadgets and utilities that get us out of tight spots. Sure, my brothers think they’re in charge. Kit is good at reading maps and figuring out codes, and Zander is pretty brave, but think about all the time my gadgets saved the day. For example, if I hadn’t been able to help Sukey fix her glider, we never would have escaped from those government agents and made it out to Drowned Man’s Canyon.

ences, new adventures. Being an Expeditioner means that you’re always paying attention, always learning. MS: What is the BNDL? M.K.: The Bureau of Newly Discovered Lands. They’re part of the government, and they’re in charge of finding all the new places in the world now that we know the maps were wrong. They think that all the resources in the new places should belong to them, and they’re pretty suspicious of me and my brothers. They know that our father gave us a mysterious map, but they don’t know any more than that. We have to keep Dad’s secret. 

MS: What does M.K. stand for? M.K.: It stands for Mary Kingsley. I think she MS: While following your father’s map, was some distant relative or something. what has been your biggest challenge? MS: You live in a world where computers no M.K.: Well, I don’t know if it was almost drowning or getting attacked by giant killer longer exist. What is that like? M.K.: We’ve heard a lot about the Muller vultures or getting captured and interrogated Machines and how everything was controlled by evil government agents or ... Hmmm, I guess by them until they crashed. I would have loved we had a lot of challenges.  to have taken one apart and figured out how it worked. Dad said that people didn’t really go MS: Will there be a third “The Expeditionanywhere when they depended on the Muller ers” book? Machines for everything, and I really like going M.K.: I don’t know if S.S. Taylor is writing our places and having adventures. Also, if there adventures down again, but a lot has hapwere still computers, I never would have got- pened since the end of The Expeditioners and ten the chance to invent a steam-powered the Secret of King Triton’s Lair. My brother Zander and I are being forced to work for submarine! the government, and my brother Kit has disMS: What did your father mean when he appeared. I think he may have been sent to Simeria by BNDL. There’s a war going on in called you “The Expeditioners?” M.K.: Dad was a famous explorer and he Simeria, you know, but Kit is trying to find the always said that we would go on great adven- next map that Dad left for us. I’m going to try tures too someday, which I guess has turned to get to Simeria too and help him out. I hope out to be true, though I wish he was here to go I can do it.  on them with us. He once told me that life is an expedition, and that you should always be P.S. I checked and  S.S. Taylor says that she on the lookout for things to learn, new experi- is working hard on the third Expeditioners! 



Ages 10+

Build Your Own Website

is a fun, illustrated introduction to the basics of creating a website. Join Kim and her little dog Tofu as she learns HTML, the language of web pages, and CSS, the language used to style web pages, from the Web Guru and Glinda, the Good Witch of CSS. Once she figures out the basics, Kim travels to WordPress City to build her first website, with Wendy, the WordPress Maven, at her side. As you follow along, you’ll learn how to: • Use HTML tags • Make your site shine with CSS • Customize WordPress to fit your needs • Choose a company to host your site and get advice on picking a good domain name The patient, step-by-step advice you’ll find in Build Your Own Website will help you get your website up and running in no time. Stop dreaming of your perfect website and start making it!



Build Your Own Website by Nate Cooper, Kim Gee (Illustrator) No Starch Press

graphic novel

Nnewts: Book I by Doug Tennapel Scholastic, Inc.

Ages 8-12


little hero faces big challenges in the first book of this totally unique fantasy-adventure series. The first book in the Nnewts series follows the story of Herk, a lovable Nnewt who longs for stronger legs, something his mother and father wish they could give him. When his quaint village is attacked by the reptile Lizzarks, he’s forced to flee his home and leave behind the only life he’s ever known. Now, all alone and on the run, Herk navigates a dangerous world filled with strange creatures and mysterious wonders, where friends are few and an evil lord is in hot pursuit.


nonfiction Ages 10+

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill


he page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history. In 1848, thirteen-year-old Emily Edmonson, five of her siblings, and seventy other enslaved people boarded the Pearl under cover of night in Washington, D.C., hoping to sail north to freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold into even crueler conditions. Passenger on the Pearl is the story of this thwarted escape, of the ramifications of its attempt, and of a family for whom freedom was the ultimate goal. Through an engaging narrative, informative sidebars, and more than fifty period photographs and illustrations, Winifred Conkling takes readers on Emily Edmonson’s journey from enslaved person to teacher at a school for African American young women. Conkling illuminates a turbulent time in American history, showing the daily lives of enslaved people, the often-changing laws affecting them, the high cost of a failed escape, and the stories of slave traders and abolitionists. 42


The Celestine Chronicles

“A swift and compelling epic that readers of high fantasy will love!” —Tony Abbott, author of The Secrets of Droon Available at


“An amazing world with characters so real, they could walk through the door, and you’d feel like you’d known them forever.” —Bookworm for Kids Available at



BOOK Crispin Scales and the Golden Pearl by Ruby Blessing


stolen princess and a rebellious witch. Dragons, fairies, gnomes and vampires. Daemons, harpies and even a few zombies. An evil, though disturbingly handsome king. And a young dragon chosen to save the world—a shame he’s not very good at it. With a jawdropping twist, Crispin Scales is the children’s series we’ve all been craving. Available at Amazon and iTunes. Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Dallas


fter Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, twelveyear-old Tomi and her Japanese American family are split up and forced to leave their California home to live in internment camps. Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this moving story of a young girl overcoming prejudices. Available at Sleeping Bear Press and Amazon.

Seven Days to Goodbye by Sheri S. Levy


hat do you get when you mix together a week on Edisto Island with a puppy raiser and her best friend connecting to guys for the first time, protecting a loggerhead turtle’s nest, finding her service dog relating to a young boy with autism, and agonizing over what comes next. You get the ingredients for Seven Days to Goodbye. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Barking Rain Press, and Fiction Addiction.


Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space. 214.704.4182.

BOOK Sunny Sweet is So Dead Meat by Jennifer Ann Mann


hen a bottle of ketchup explodes all over Masha Sweet, she thinks it’s an accident. But of course her little sister Sunny has devised a special science experiment that requires Masha to look totally weird all day. Masha isn’t having it. Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A Pig Called Heather by Harry Oulton


eather the pig has it all: a lovely farm to live on in the Scottish countryside, apples of all kinds to devour, and a doting best friend in the farmer’s daughter, Isla. Unfortunately, Heather’s idyllic existence is shattered when Isla’s dad has to sell the farm to pushy Farmer Busby. Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant & Melissa Sweet


or shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions—and it wasn’t long before he began writing his own. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space. 214.704.4182.

publisher’s corner


How TOON Books got started:

When my son was struggling to learn how to read, I was at a loss for what to do. In his school, books were treated like bad-tasting medicine. So instead of using the dull early readers the school gave us, we read French comics together—and it clicked! He grew up to love reading. It became clear how well comics work for kids. But I couldn’t find good Englishlanguage comics for young children. I thought, “If it doesn’t exist and it should, I should publish it.” I knew that comics for kids, especially early readers, were a grand idea, because they are what saved my son. 46


TOON Books are…a rethinking as radical as the first time Theodor Geisel put a hat on a cat.

—Françoise Mouly, Publisher & Editorial Director of TOON Books

How TOON Books got its name:

The TOON Books are more than cartoons. They represent a whole new approach to books for beginning readers—a rethinking as radical as the first time Theodor Geisel put a hat on a cat. We wanted to find a name that embraced the revolutionary nature of combining comic-book storytelling with educator-vetted material. TOON Books it was.

Steinberg, and Julia Phillips round out our team and manage our editorial, production, and rights departments.

What makes TOON Books special:

TOON Books are the first high-quality comics designed for children ages three and up. This is also the first collection ever designed to offer early readers comics they can read themselves. Each TOON book has been vetted by educators to ensure that the The people language and narratives nurture behind the books: young minds. Our books feature I am the publisher and editorial original stories and characters director of TOON Books. created by veteran children’s Kimberly Guise, our marketing director, has been key in getting book authors, renowned cartoonists, and new talents, all TOON into the hands of kids across the country. Iru Ba, Sasha applying their extraordinary skills

to tales that welcome young children to the magic of reading.

books to check out

Awards and recognitions:

Our books have received numerous awards, including three Theodor Seuss Geisel prizes given by the American Library Association. A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse won the Cybils Award, while eight of our books are Eisner Award nominees. The TOON Books have been recognized by The New York Times, Parents Magazine, Booklist, School Library Journal, Bank Street College of Education, and Junior Library Guild.

New and upcoming releases:

This fall, we expanded on our established offering of comics for young kids with the highprofile TOON Graphics line for children ages eight and up. Our first season includes Cast Away on the Letter A: A Philemon Adventure by Fred, Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux, and Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti. In 2015, we’ll publish the next Philemon Adventure, The Wild Piano; another Greek myth, Orpheus and the Underworld by Yvan Pommaux; and Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez.

Cast Away on the Letter A: A Philemon Adventure by Fred Ages 8+

Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux Ages 8+

n an ordinary day in the countryside, Philemon falls into a well on his father’s farm and lands...on the Atlantic Ocean—literally on an A-shaped island complete with unicorns, centaurs, and exploding clocks. He begins a wild and whimsical journey home through a fantasy world as original as Alice’s Wonderland, as richly imagined as Little Nemo’s Slumberland, and as exciting to explore as Oz.

n the unique TOON Graphics line of visually compelling stories, this is a mythology comic done right! Master French cartoonist Yvan Pommaux introduces a wealth of historically accurate details that immerse readers in the context and culture of ancient Greece. The story is supplemented with character cards, maps, mazes, and an index of cited names that will keep readers coming back for more!





of the book blogs Ambassador by William Alexander Margaret K. McElderry Review by


Ages 8-12


abriel Fuentes is an eleven-year-old middle child. He’s plenty courageous, but he’s learned in his eleven years to be a peacemaker. When The Envoy asks Gabe to become Earth’s Ambassdor to the Galaxy and to avert an impending crisis in the universe using his skills in diplomacy and playground negotiation, Gabe feels it is his duty to take up the challenge. But while Gabe is dealing with a destructive alien force headed for Earth and an assassination attempt, his family on Earth is in danger of being deported from the U.S. because of their undocumented status. How can Gabe save Earth and be

there for his family? Ambassador is lots of fun. It doesn’t tie all the loose ends up neatly at the end of the book. Readers will want to know more about what happens to Gabe’s family as well as the motivations and intentions of the enigmatic Outlast Omegan. Maybe there’s a sequel planned. Nevertheless, it’s not an unsatisfying ending. Gabe is an engaging character, and he does do what he needs to do in a well-planned and plucky way. Whovians and Trekkies and fans of classic sci-fi in general will enjoy the ride.


Middle Shelf would like to recognize the following blogs for promoting and exemplifying the spirit of Middle Grade books. MIDDLE SHELF MAGAZINE





Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz Disney Hyperion Review by



ook’s Revenge is lighthearted, insightful and mostly very witty middle-grade fun. It’s the kind of book I would have adored when I was twelve, and there were still things I thoroughly enjoyed. Like the feisty, slightly out of control main character, and the fact that this story is all about finding the power inside yourself, and that it was told from the point of view of one of my favorite narrators ever. Hook’s Revenge is most definitely a book that I would recommend. Hook’s Revenge is the story of Jocelyn Hook, the infamous Captain Hook’s twelve-yearold daughter, who is wild, reckless and desperate for

Ages 8-12 an adventure. Unfortunately, her grandfather doesn’t agree, and he sends her to finishing school to become a lady. Jocelyn detests finishing school, the headmistress, and her classmates, and would much rather spend her time planning adventures with her friend Roger. But when terrible news reaches Jocelyn and she has to travel to Neverland to avenge the father she never met, she finds out that adventures are harder than they seem. Jocelyn is such an endearing main character. Her feistiness is great, but she is also quite insecure at times.

>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email BOOKWORM BLATHER BOOKWORM FOR KIDS BOYS AND LITERACY


poetry A SHEEP IS ASLEEP ON MY SOFA A sheep is asleep on my sofa. A sheep is asleep on my floor. A sheep is asleep in the closet, and seems to be starting to snore. A sheep is asleep on my dresser. A sheep is asleep on my bed. I found when I woke up this morning, a sheep was asleep on my head. A few can be found in the corner. They’re soundly asleep in a heap. There isn’t a space in my bedroom that isn’t all covered in sheep.

The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids by Kenn Nesbitt

Ages 7-10



With so many sheep in my bedroom, I’m thinking I wasn’t too bright, and maybe I shouldn’t have asked for a sheepover party last night.

BETTY MET A YETI Betty met a yeti in the mountains of Tibet. She cooked him some spaghetti and she baked him a baguette. And when the food was ready and the dishes all were set, the yeti swallowed Betty and said, “Mmmm, the best one yet.” So that’s the end of Betty, but you needn’t be upset unless you meet a yeti in the mountains of Tibet. Then just stay calm and steady. Don’t be nervous. Never fret. And don’t cook him spaghetti or, who knows what you might get?

From The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids by Kenn Nesbitt. Copyright 2014. Reprinted with permission from publisher. Reprinted by permission.



I have waited for this moment all my life. —From Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin




cleopatra’s legacy

Book I:

The Emerald Ring “The Emerald Ring is an exciting and mysterious fantasy featuring fast-paced action, a scary villain, and a spunky young heroine.” —SUZANNE WILLIAMS, co-author of The Goddess Girls series

Book II:

The Ruby Pendant “Rich with atmosphere, and full of delightful shivers, The Ruby Pendant pulled me right in. Part mystery, part ghost story, it is completely enjoyable.” —BRADEN BELL, author of the Middle School Magic series


january/february 2015

contributors ABED, MELANIE Author of Anni Moon and the Elemental Artifact, Abed has worked in Hollywood, has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a degree in fine art, an M.A. in psychology, and loves skydiving and scuba diving.

LANG, DIANE Lang’s book, The Fat Boy Chronicles, (co-authored with Michael Buchanan) won the National Parenting Publication’s Gold Award and Mom’s Choice Award of Excellence. Lang lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

BUCHANAN, MICHAEL Co-author of The Fat Boy Chronicles, Buchanan conducts screenwriting workshops, juries for film festivals, and keynoted the 2011 International Anti-Bullying Convention in New Orleans. He lives in Alpretta, Georgia.

MOOSER, STEPHEN Author of more than 60 books for kids, Mooser earned a BA in Motion Pictures and a Masters in Journalism from UCLA. In 1971, with Lin Oliver, Stephen Mooser co-founded the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

CAMPBELL, STACY Author of Arrgh!, Whisper, and Hush, Campbell earned a degree in Communications from the University of Washington. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters.

MOULY, FRANÇOISE Mouly is the publisher and Editorial Director of TOON Books and the art editor for The New Yorker magazine. She was also the founder, publisher, designer and co-editor with her collaborator and husband, cartoonist Art Spiegelman, of the pioneering comics anthology “RAW.”

EARLY, SHERRY Sherry is the author and instigator of Semicolon, a blog about kids and books and homeschooling. She is also a homeschooling mom of eight children and the author of Picture Book Preschool GREY, C.R. Grey grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, then received her BA in Theater from SUNY New Paltz and her MFA in Fiction from Ohio State University. Grey lives in Poughkeepsie, New York with her husband and pets. KROON, JUDITH Kroon is a book blogger and reviewer, English literature and linguistics student, part time magazine editor and aspiring writer from the Netherlands. She has been blogging at Paper Riot.

cool reads for cool kids.

NESBITT, KEN Nesbitt’s blog,, is a great resource for young readers. Nesbitt is also the author of many books, including Kiss, Kiss Good Night, The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World, and Revenge of the Lunch Ladies. PICHON, L. After its publication in the U.K., The Brilliant World of Tom Gates won several prestigious awards, including the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, and the Blue Peter Book Award. L. Pichon lives in England with her family. SCATTERGOOD, AUGUSTA Former librarian and children’s book reviewer,

january/february 2015

contributors Scattergood’s reviews and articles have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Delta Magazine, the St. Petersburg Times, and other publications. SIDWELL, ADAM Most of the time, Sidwell is a professional monster-maker for blockbuster movies. By circumstance rather than design, he specializes in robots and zombies, though he prefers dinosaurs. He is the author of four books so far. TAYLOR, S.S. Author of The Expeditioners series, Taylor loves maps books of all kinds, expeditions, old libraries, mysterious situations, long-hidden secrets, missing explorers, and traveling to known and unknown places. She lives in Vermont. TORRES, JENNIFER Author of The Briny Deep Mysteries and numerous celebrity biographies for children, Torres spent 15 years as a journalist. She loves to write about fantastical lands, secret passageways, and doorways to magical places. YELCHIN, EUGENE Yelchin is the author and illustrator of the Newbery Honor book Breaking Stalin’s Nose. He has also illustrated several books for children, including Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? and Won Ton. He lives in California with his wife and children. Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX

75085. Copyright 2015 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids -- January/February 2015  

Find your next favorite middle grade book in Middle Shelf, aimed at kids 8 to 14. In this issue: Eugene Yelchin, Stephen Mooser, Adam Sidwel...

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