Page 1

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

FEATURING

SHANNON HALE TANIA del RIO WILL STAEHLE Stories about 2nd Chances Interview with Judy Moody Discover Orca Books


I’m the bro you need to know!

READ THE MIDDLE SCHOOL SURVIVAL GUIDE THAT KIDS ARE TALKING ABOUT!


staff

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

What to read next?

Christina Davidson c re a t i ve d i re c tor

Sign up for a

Ben Minton circ u l a t i on ma n a g e r Patricia McClain c o py e d i to r Kelly Bergh asso c i a te e d i to r Dorine White a sso c i a te e d i to r

FREE SUBSCRIPTION to Middle Shelf at www.shelfmediagroup.com.

Morgan Siem c on su l ta n t , soc i a l me d i a Kasia Piasecka so c i a l me d i a ma n a g e r Jane Miller ac c o u n t i n g ma n a g e r

For a dve r tising inqu ir ie s: c al l 2 14.704.4182 or e- mail m a rga ret@ s he l fm e di agrou p.c om For editor ial inqu ir ie s: e- mail la u ris a @ s helfm e di agrou p.c om or write to Mid d le Sh e l f, 28020 New b i rd D r i ve, S augu s, CA 91350

Illustration: from Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

COOL READS FOR KIDS


cleopatra’s legacy DORINE WHITE

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 Book III:

The Diamond Looking Glass COMING IN OCTOBER 2015!

WWW.DORINEWHITE.COM


january/february 2016 contents

DEPARTMENTS 4

a word from the editor

14

themed books: 2nd Chances

18

common core pick

20

cool reads for cool kids

28

jem & lara’s reviews

38

on our shelf

40 novelty 6

Shannon Hale interview with the Newbery Honor author

10

Tania del Rio interview with the author of Warren The 13th

12 Lois Sepahban interview with the debut author of Paper Wishes 30

under the covers with artist Will Staehle

46

character spotlight an interview with Judy Moody

Images from A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout and The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie G. Schmidt

41

graphic novel

42

non-fiction

48

publisher’s corner

50

best of the book blogs

52

poetry

54

last words

56

contributors

On the cover: Illustration by Will Staehle from Warren The 13th


a word from the

editor

A

s I write this, I am looking out my office window at the clear blue California sky. It is New Year’s Day, and I am thinking about all the adventures 2015 brought, and all those yet to come in 2016. Each new year brings with it an opportunity for trying new things, and for starting over. I didn’t accomplish all the goals I wanted to last year, but 2016 is filled with plenty of second chances. In keeping with this theme, this issue of Middle Shelf Magazine highlights many books about second chances, whether giving a stranded manatee a new lease on life in Manatee Rescue by Nicola Davies, trying to make a new life in a Japanese American prison camp in Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban, or fighting to be reunited with a pet horse in Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. But you’ll find so much more in Middle Shelf as well. Shannon Hale, Newbery Honor author of The Princess Academy, talks about the third book in her series. In our “Under the Covers” feature, artist Will Staehle displays his collection of “might-have-been” covers for Will the 13th. You’ll find excerpts from six of the best upcoming books to be published this spring, as well as reviews and spotlights of many other titles. As the new year begins, I hope each of you will not only explore new opportunities, but will also give some unfinished goals from last year another try. I also hope you will make plenty of time to read and to dream. Laurisa White Reyes Editor in Chief, Middle Shelf Magazine

CLICK HERE to subscribe to Middle Shelf magazine for FREE. Find Middle Shelf on Facebook: www.facebook.com/middleshelfmagazine

4

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


find us on facebook

www.facebook.com/middleshelfmagazine


feature

author interview

Shannon Hale N

ine years ago (has it really been that long?) The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale won the hearts of readers and award committees alike. Snagging the 2006 Newbery Honor and numerous other recognitions, the book has been translated into many languages and has become one of the most beloved fantasy stories in children’s literature. The story continues in two additional books, The Palace of Stone and The Forgotten Sisters. In addition, Ms. Hale has also been writing a new princess series, The Princess in Black, delighting younger readers the world over. Middle Shelf is honored to have Ms. Hale as our featured guest. 6

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

The Forgotten Sisters The Princess Academy, book 3 by Shannon Hale www.squeetus.com Bloomsbury USA

Ages 10-14


Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Ms. Hale. The Princess Academy series concludes with The Forgotten Sisters, available soon in paperback. Tell us about the new challenges Miri faces. Shannon Hale: Miri is ready and eager to return home when the king asks her to travel to a remote swamp and open a princess academy for three royal sisters. At first she just wants to get her task over with so she can go home, but as she befriends and teaches the sisters, she uncovers a mystery and realizes they are the key to stopping the war brewing at the border. Really this book requires Miri to use everything she’s learned in the past in order to save everything she loves. MS: What do you imagine for Miri after this trilogy ends? Hale: I’m hesitant to say! I feel like once a book is out there, it doesn’t belong to me anymore. I want readers to imagine for themselves her future without bossy author person elbowing in and telling them if their imagination is right or wrong. But I will say that she is now a child of two worlds: the mountain and the city. MS: Your new series, The Princess in Black, is for younger readers. Where does your fascination with princesses come from? Hale: A princess is kind of like a superhero to me. She’s a girl, but an uber-girl. I think as a child I often felt weak and powerless, so stories about girls with power—like princesses and superheroes—always appealed to me.

And still do. Because in fact all girls have loads of power, but seeing the likes of princesses and superheroes in action helps us believe it. MS: What was the first story you ever wrote? Hale: I remember writing a story in kindergarten about a witch with long green fingernails who ate children. Rather grim. In fourth grade I started several books—fantasy novels, mysteries, girls with their friends having amazing adventures. I say I started several books because I never finished them. I didn’t finish a novel till I was in my mid-twenties. I think my childhood writing was a time to start and explore but without the pressure to finish or perfect. 7


MS: If you could visit one imaginary land, which would it be? Hale: Only one! Any of the lands from my books would be amazing because they already feel like second homes. Probably Narnia. I spent so much time there as a child. MS: If you were a princess and lived in one of your books, what three modern items would you want and why? Hale: Indoor plumbing. And a sewer system. Antibiotics. General health care, really. Good comfortable supportive shoes. A mattress. A shower with hot water and shampoo. Wait, did you say only three? Also a laptop. And electricity. Central heating. Clean socks.

MS: What are your favorite activities, next to writing? Hale: I have four young children, so my life really revolves around them. We like reading together, playing games, storytelling, going on hikes, having popcorn and movie nights. I also try to do yoga every day and spend time with my husband, who is also my best friend. He and I can talk for hours and never get bored of each other.

MS: What has been your biggest challenge as a writer? Hale: The challenge now as much as ever is just getting the work done. There are so many distractions: kids, the internet, errands, household chores, the internet, non-writing business stuff, the lure of naps, the internet. Carving out writing time and being dedicated to it is and always will be a challenge, because as much as I love to write, it is work, and my lazy human brain will always look for something easier to do than to work.

“I didn’t finish a novel till I was in my mid-twenties. I think my childhood writing was a time to start and explore but without the pressure to finish or perfect.” 8

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


“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.

WWW.HELENSTRINGER.NET 9


feature

author interview

Warrant The 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio, Will Staehle (Illustrator)

Tania del Rio M

eet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky...yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it! This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull young readers into a spooky and delightful mystery.

10

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

www.taniadelrio.blogspot.com Quirk Publishing

Ages 10-13


Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Ms. del Rio. Tell us about your new book, Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye. Tania del Rio: This is a fully illustrated, beautifully designed mystery adventure about Warren the 13th, an orphaned 12-year-old who is heir to his family’s ancient hotel. He does the best he can to maintain the hotel, but his lazy uncle Rupert has taken over the management until Warren comes of age. Worse yet, Rupert has married an evil woman called Annaconda who is convinced a powerful treasure called the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere in the hotel. Warren must solve riddles left by his ancestors to find the treasure before Anaconda does and save his hotel from ruin. MS: How is Warren cursed? del Rio: Warren is cursed with his unlucky circumstances. He also has an unusual, toad-like appearance, but it remains a mystery why he looks the way he does! MS: Who are some of the “strange and wacky” hotel guests he encounters? del Rio: Once word gets out that there is a treasure hidden in the hotel, guests flock from all over the globe to join the hunt for it. There are wealthy adventurers, thieves, and even a barbarian. You’ll have to read the book to see what other types of guests appear! One of them befriends Warren, but most of the newcomers are rude and destructive as they search for the AllSeeing Eye.

MS: What are some of the other projects you’ve done? del Rio: I’ve mostly worked in the comics industry, primarily for Archie comics. I wrote and drew the four volume series of manga Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I’m also the author of the middle grade diary-style novel, Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty. MS: Why didn’t you illustrate Warren the 13th yourself? del Rio: Will Staehle created the character of Warren years ago when we were in art school together, and his unique, Victorian/Gothic style was established from the very beginning. I can’t imagine this project being illustrated by anyone other than Will! MS: Will Warren have a sequel? del Rio: It will! In fact, I’m working on it right now. I can’t say much about it yet, but I can tell you that there is a hidden series of clues in Book 1 that will reveal what Book 2 will be about, so keep your eyes peeled! 11


feature

debut author interview

Lois Sepahban Middle Shelf: What inspired you to write Manami’s story? Lois Sepahban: I grew up in central California, not far from Manzanar. In my early elementary school years, I had a friend whose grandparents had been internees during World War II. His mom spoke to us at school once about her parents’ experiences. That planted a seed for me. Over the years, whenever we would drive past the road leading to Manzanar, or whenever it was mentioned during history class (usually just a blip of a paragraph in the whole text book), that seed was watered. Books, interviews, photographs of Manzanar all made me stop. Pay attention. Read, listen, look. A few years ago, I read a photo book about children who lived at Manzanar. Suddenly, the seed for the story sprouted and it was all I could think about. There was one photo in particular—a little girl whose face I couldn’t forget. She became the face of Manami. MS: What surprised you most in your research? 12

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban www.loissepahban.com Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ages 9-12


Sepahban: It is a sad fact that half of the internees at Manzanar were children. Boys and girls who were born in and were citizens of the United States. Because their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents immigrated from Japan, they were considered a threat. Manzanar even had an on-site orphanage where orphaned children of Japanese ancestry were sent. I was also deeply saddened by the depictions of Japanese Americans in newspaper articles and cartoons. The truth is that most people in America supported the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. MS: How did the Japanese Americans recover from their internment? Does Manami? Sepahban: I think it’s important to understand what recovery means. Traditionally, it means to return to an earlier, perhaps normal, state of being. The truth about recovery for former internees is that it was impossible to return to that earlier state of being. How could their experiences in the internment camps be undone? This was the idea behind the loss of Yujiin. Just like Manami, I desperately wanted Yujiin to somehow find his way to the camp and be reunited with his family. But that happy ending would have been dishonest. It would be like saying, “See, she got her dog back. It wasn’t so bad.” Yujiin is a symbol for all that was taken away from Manami’s family that could never be returned. In spite of this trauma, former internees did move on and move

forward. They fell in love and started families. They reintegrated into a society that had rejected them. Some were silent about their experiences as internees. Some were vocal. Most lived quiet, everyday lives, like my friend’s grandparents. Some became senators or television stars or athletes or writers. Like these living examples, Manami does move forward. Her heart is healed by her love for a new dog who needs her as much as she needs him. But she does not forget Yujiin, just like she does not forget the trauma of being sent to the internment camp. MS: What do you plan to write next? Sepahban: I’m currently working on a couple of stories that also look at the experiences of marginalized groups of people who are American, but not treated as full citizens. I’ve been asked to write happy endings for Yujiin and for Ron and Miss Rosalie. While I have no plans for such stories, I have certainly imagined them. And in my imagination, they are very happy endings. 13


SECON D CHANCES

themed books:

Blue in the Face

Manatee Rescue

by Gerry Swallow

by Nicola Davies

Bloomsbury www.bloomsbury.com/us/ childrens

Candlewick www.nicola-davies.com

Ages 8-12

M

W

hen Elspeth Pule, an eleven-year-old brat, wakes up one day in a strange forest, she finds some familiar faces around her—those of the nursery rhyme characters she grew up reading about. But as she soon learns from Humpty Dumpy, a suave, tuxedowearing egg, what she knows is a twisted version of the truth concocted by the evil Old King Krool—and none of the characters are who she thinks. Elspeth couldn’t care less, but she soon gets pulled into the fight against Krool’s tyranny. And if she wants to get home, she’ll need to learn some compassion—and teach the characters that sometimes a good old-fashioned tantrum is exactly what’s necessary.

14

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Ages 7-10 anuela had imagined that killing a manatee would be like killing a very big fish, just more exciting. But when her father successfully harpoons one, leaving its baby orphaned, she finds that her feelings have changed. She vows to rescue the baby manatee and return it to the river. But she soon realizes what an enormous task she’s taken on. Will she be able to save the baby manatee—and protect him from being hunted in the future, too? Zoologist Nicola Davies merges a heart-pounding adventure with a conservation message triggered by a life-changing—and mindchanging—encounter.


SECON D CHANCES Soar

Some Kind of Courage

by Joan Bauer

by Dan Gemeinhart

Random House www.joanbauer.com

Scholastic www. dangemeinhart.com

Ages 10-14

Ages 8-12

J

J

eremiah is the world’s biggest baseball fan. He really loves baseball and he knows just about everything there is to know about his favorite sport. So when he’s told he can’t play baseball following an operation on his heart, Jeremiah decides he’ll do the next best thing and become a coach. Hillcrest, where Jeremiah and his father Walt have just moved, is a town known for its championship baseball team. But Jeremiah finds the town caught up in a scandal and about ready to give up on baseball. It’s up to Jeremiah and his can-do spirit to get the town—and the team—back in the game.

oseph Johnson has lost just about everyone he’s ever loved. He lost his pa in an accident. He lost his ma and his little sister to sickness. And now, he’s lost his pony—fast, fierce, beautiful Sarah, taken away by a man who had no right to take her. Joseph can sure enough get her back, though. The odds are stacked against him, but he isn’t about to give up. He will face down deadly animals, dangerous men, and the fury of nature itself on his quest to be reunited with the only family he has left. Joseph Johnson may have lost just about everything. But he hasn’t lost hope. And he hasn’t lost the fire in his belly that says he’s getting his Sarah back—no matter what.

15


SECON D CHANCES

themed books:

Crossing the Deadline by Michael Shoulders Sleeping Bear Press www.michaelshoulders.com

Ages 9-12

W

hen Stephen’s father passes away in 1861, he and his mother and brother are left at the mercy of a cruel uncle. As the Civil War intensifies to the south, Stephen’s brother enlists to fight for the Union and help support the family. The war drags on and Stephen is witness to the sad consequences of slavery. The opportunity to enlist as Colonel Eli Lilly’s personal bugler arises and Stephen jumps at the chance. After surviving the Battle of Sulphur Trestle in Alabama, Stephen is sent to a Confederate prison camp to await the end of the war. The trials of prison camp are severe but at war’s end Stephen is set to be sent home to Indiana aboard the steamboat Sultana. However, disaster strikes and the ship catches fire and capsizes in America’s largest maritime disaster.

16

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari Blazer & Bray (Harper Collins) www.jenmaschari.com

Ages 8-12

E

ver since Charlie Price’s mom died, he feels like his world has been split into two parts. Before included stargazing and Mathletes and Saturday scavenger hunts with his family. After means a dad who’s completely checked out, comically bad dinners, and grief group that’s anything but helpful. It seems like losing Mom meant losing everything else he loved, too. Just when Charlie thinks things can’t get any worse, his sister, Imogen, starts acting erratically—missing school and making up lies about their mother. But everything changes when one day he follows her down a secret passageway in the middle of her bedroom and sees for himself. Imogen has found a parallel world where Mom is alive!


SECON D CHANCES A Tiny Piece of Sky

Once Was a Time

by Shawn K. Stout

by Leila Sales

Philomel www.shawnkstout.com

Chronicle Books www.leilasales.com

Ages 9-12

Ages 10-14

W

orld War II is coming in Europe. At least that’s what Frankie Baum heard on the radio. But from her small town in Maryland, in the wilting summer heat of 1939, the war is a world away. Besides, there are too many other things to think about: first that Frankie’s father up and bought a restaurant without telling anyone and now she has to help in the kitchen, peeling potatoes and washing dishes, when she’d rather be racing to Wexler’s Five and Dime on her skates. Plus her favorite sister, Joanie Baloney, is away for the summer and hasn’t been answering any of Frankie’s letters. But when some people in town start accusing her father of being a German spy, all of a sudden the war arrives at Frankie’s feet and she can think of nothing else. Could the rumors be true?

I

n the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte’s scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty’s fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.

17


Multicultural Literature Languages

BI-LINGUAL STORIES TO ASTONISH! Middle Shelf’s Common Core Pick

Grades 4-8

The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories by Xavier Garza Arte Publico Press www.cincopuntos.com 18

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

M

argarito is eleven years old now and he’s way past believing in Grandpa Ventura’s ghost stories, but he loves listening to them anyway. One evening on his way home from his grandfather’s, Margarito finds himself alone in the gathering dusk, crossing a narrow bridge. Suddenly, a woman in white floats towards him and calls, “Come to me, child... come to me!” He frantically hides in the shallow river, but soon sees a pair of yellow, glowing eyes swimming towards him. Before long, the Donkey Lady and La Llorona are circling each other, fighting to claim poor Margarito as their next victim! Popular storyteller Xavier Garza returns with another collection of eerie tales full of creepy creatures from Mexican-American lore. There are duendes, bald, green-skinned brutes with sharp teeth; thunderbirds, giant pterodactyl-like things that discharge electricity from their wings during thunderstorms; and blood-sucking beasts that drain every single drop of blood from their victims’ bodies! Accompanied by the author’s dramatic black and white illustrations, the short, blood-curdling stories in this bilingual collection are sure to bewitch a whole new generation of young people.


12-year-old Elena Barrios’ father has AIDS, a new disease in 1991 with a 100% fatality rate. Rather than face certain ridicule and ostracism, Elena tells her friends anything but the truth, fabricating stories about her father being a writer and researcher. But the reality is that Elena resents her father’s illness and can’t face the fact that he is dying. When she is befriended by a woman named Ang who tells stories about her own father, Elena is transported into these stories, allowing her to experience them first hand. With Ang’s help, Elena gains the courage to stand up to the bully at her school, mend her relationship with her father, and finally say goodbye.

WWW.LAURISAWHITEREYES.COM


excerpts

COOL READS FOR

1

2

3

MYSTERY

ADVENTURE

HISTORICAL 20

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

COOL

KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.

4

5

FANTASY

SCIENCE FICTION

6

HUMOR


1

mystery

Ages 8-12 Tiara on the Terrace by Kristen Kittscher Harper Collins | www.kristenkittscher.com

G

race had tried to snazz up our outfits by raiding the lost and found. Unfortunately, the same scarf that had transformed her into a Teen Vogue model had made me look like an accident victim in a neck brace. Trista had refused to even try it on, citing health risks. Something about lost-and-found fungus and the importance of proper airflow for people with allergies. “Besides,” she said, flashing jazz hands over the Girl Scout badges sewn on her cargo jacket. “It distracts from my flair.” Meanwhile, Grace had pulled together leggings, a skirt, and cardi­gan to create a cool vintage style that made her look like she was in high school already. Leave it to her to look fashion-shoot ready in a moldy lost-and-found skirt. I squared my shoulders and tried to make myself look taller. “Too bad there weren’t any heels in the lost and found,” I mumbled. “You got this, Soph.” Grace plucked a stray flower petal from my shoulder and adjusted my pendant. “We’re town heroes. We don’t have to be perfect.” “We’d have to really mess up for them not to let us in,” Trista agreed. Grace elbowed Trista when she thought I wasn’t looking. “What?” Trista blinked. “Am I wrong?” My throat went sandpaper dry. I remembered Rod’s smile in the float barns when

we were joking about trying out for pages. His words echoed in my head: There’s no way you wouldn’t get a spot. I glanced around the living room. Girls eyed us jealously and turned back to their friends, whispering. Every person in that room expected us to coast to victory. Tiara on the Terrace. Copyright © 2016 by Kristen Kittscher. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21


2

adventure

Ages 8-12 Ninja Timmy by Henrik Tamm Delacorte Press | www.henriktamm.com

S

weaty and tired, the friends slowly lowered the machine onto the dusty cobblestones. Simon, not surprisingly, took the opportunity to polish his fur, making sure it was as shiny as ever. The others caught their breaths. They still had a long way to go. Timmy recognized where they were. He had an idea. “Guys, I know a shortcut. If we cut through the alleyways, we’ll save quite a bit of time.” He nodded toward the alley ahead. Its narrow opening looked dark. “You know as well as I do that that would be risky,” Simon protested. “Let’s face it, I don’t want to turn into anyone’s afternoon snack if we come across the wrong crowd. Didn’t you learn anything on the streets? Predators could be anywhere.” “Yeah, Timmy. I don’t know . . . ,” Casper said nervously. “It’ll be dark soon, and, well . . . we’re just a bunch of inventors . . . geeks, really. Not tough at all.” They all knew that was pretty much true. “But it’ll take longer to go back the regular way,” Timmy retorted. He knew that taking the alley probably wasn’t a great idea, but he also really, really wanted to sell this machine today. Free fruit for a year! And maybe cashews or almonds too! And there were four of them, quick-minded and inventive. What was the worst that could

happen? Jasper started a quick calculation in his mind. “Based on current parameters, the risk will be about point four on the Riskman scale.” “Point three, actually,” Casper began. Ninja Timmy. Copyright © 2016 by Henrik Tamm. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 22

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


3

historical

Ages 10-12 Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | www.cherylblackford.com

E

very window on the train had been painted black, blocking any possible view of the passing scenery. Lizzie knew the paint was necessary to hide the train’s lights from German planes, but she wished she could see outside where there might be farmland, mountains, or rivers to watch. Instead, as the train sped along the tracks, all Lizzie saw was her own frizzy-haired reflection in the blank black rectangle of glass. Children from Lizzie’s school were crammed into the train carriage. Some sat on suitcases in the aisle while others bickered and jostled for room on the crowded seats. Some sat blank-faced with their gas masks slung over their shoulders and their possessions in their laps. A few of the older children played a card game using a suitcase for a table. A tiny girl cried, “Mummy, I want my mummy,” over and over again. Lizzie couldn’t reach the girl to comfort her ​— ​there were too many other children in the way. In the strange cocoon of the carriage, Lizzie had lost all sense of time. It had been early morning when she’d taken Peter’s hand, said goodbye to their mother, and climbed onto the double-decker bus outside their school in Hull. It had still been morning when the bus had stopped at the railway station and she’d guided Peter to a seat on the packed train. They’d long ago eaten their potted meat sandwiches,

but Lizzie’s watch had stopped at eleven o’clock, and she had no idea how many hours had passed since then on the rattling, clattering train. “Look after Peter, love,” her mother had said after giving Lizzie a final kiss. “Don’t let them send you to different homes. Seven’s too young for him to be on his own.” Lizzie and the Lost Baby. Copyright © 2016 by Cheryl Blackford. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23


4

fantasy

Ages 8-12 Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimée Carter Bloomsbury Children’s USA | www.aimeecarter.com

T

ap tap. Tap tap tap. Simon Thorn’s eyes flew open. He lay in bed, breathing heavily and squinting against the early morning light. He’d been in the middle of a dream, and the harder he tried to remember it, the faster it disappeared. It felt important though, and while he couldn’t remember seeing her face, he was sure his mother had been in it. Tap. Tap tap tap. He rolled over, his head fuzzy from a lack of sleep. The cramped New York City apartment he shared with his uncle smelled like pancakes, and his stomach churned. Not even chocolate chips could make up for the fact that it was his first day of seventh grade. Tap. Tap tap. Tap tap tap. A pigeon perched on his windowsill, rapping its beak against the glass. Simon groaned. “You’re too early. Come back later.” The pigeon continued to tap, growing more and more insistent. This wasn’t all that unusual. Simon had found that pigeons were, as a general rule, extremely rude and had an inflated sense of self-importance. Never mind the fact that Simon hadn’t fallen asleep until nearly midnight, thanks to his racing thoughts and fluttering stomach. The pigeon cared about only one thing, and that was— “Food!” it cooed as Simon pushed open his window. Another dozen pigeons landed

on the fire escape. “Food! Food! Food!” “I don’t have any yet,” said Simon. “Do, too. Smell it,” said the first pigeon. It flew into his room and landed on his nightstand. The others crowded together, vying for the empty place on the windowsill. “Food! Food!” Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den. Copyright © 2016 by Aimée Carter. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury USA.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 24

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


5

science fiction

Ages 8-12 Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars by Cory Putnam Oakes Sourcebooks | www.corypoakes.com

T

here are lots of cool things about being part stegosaurus. Trying to get a decent night’s sleep isn’t one of them. I used to sleep on my back like a normal person. But now that my back has seventeen hard plates on it, that’s no longer an option. Neither is lying on my front, since my back is so heavy that it’s hard to breathe when I’m flat on my stomach. Curling up on my side sort of works, but I have to wedge myself into place with tons of pillows so I don’t accidentally roll over and squash my plates. And who can sleep when they’re practically drowning in pillows? One night, I even tried to sleep standing up. They say that real stegosauruses might have done that. But real stegosauruses had four legs. I only have two, so let’s just say the mechanics didn’t exactly work out. My latest attempt at a comfy sleep position came courtesy of my grandfather. He used to be part stegosaurus himself (until he took the cure). He told me that when he had dinosaur parts, he never had a good night’s sleep either. Until he visited Dubai where he saw a camel kneel in the sand, tuck its legs underneath its body, and take a nap. I figured it was worth a shot. So last night I got down on all fours in the center of my bed, tucked my knees under my chest, stretched my tail out behind me, and

rested my cheek on a stack of pillows. It must have worked. Or maybe I was just really tired. But either way, I was still in that same position when my mom came in and woke me up early the next morning. I couldn’t figure out why she was telling me I had to get up and go to school. It was a Saturday, after all. And by my count, I still had two days of winter break left. Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars. Copyright © 2016 by Cory Putnam Oakes. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 25


6

humor

Ages 8-12 The McVentures of Me, Morgan McFactoid by Mark Waxman Sky Pony Press | www.markswaxman.wordpress.com

B

y the time he was eight years old, Mozart had composed his first symphony. I just turned thirteen and I still haven’t learned how to whistle, but soon everybody will know my name, which, by the way, is Morgan McCracken. Not everyone calls me Morgan, though. My grandfather, Poppy, calls me Sparky, because he thinks I have an “imaginative spark.” My irritating sister calls me Mister McFactoid, because I’m always spouting freaky facts and weird trivia. And the kids at school call me all kinds of names, probably because I’m different. I look different—I have unruly red hair and 203 freckles on my face. I think different—I wonder about things like, how do you handcuff a one-armed man? And who was the first person to look at a cow and say, “I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things and drink whatever comes out?” And why is “bra” singular but “panties” plural? And I act different—I’m an inventor. I invent strange things that usually get me into trouble and sometimes get me back out of trouble. For example, my Spring-Loaded Shoes allow me to jump a six-foot fence in a single, spectacular leap. And my Have A Seat Pants are trousers that turn into chairs, so you can always sit down when you want to. And I’m working on a device that would record dreams so you could watch them later.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t invented anything to save me from Brad Buckholtz Jr., the meanest kid in school, who had decided one particular day would be my last particular day on earth. I wished I had devised a way for a person to instantly disappear, to evaporate, to vanish in a flash. Because that’s what I needed to do that afternoon. The McVentures of Me, Morgan McFactoid. Copyright © 2016 by Mark S. Waxman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sky Pony Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 26

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE

JU LY/A UG US

T 20 15

FEATURING

LOUIS SACHAR MATTHEW J. KIRBY CINDY CALLAGHAN ooks Adventure B ll’s Brandon Mu pers Crystal Kee nicle Books Inside Chro

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP


JEM recommends Ages 10-14

Jem Burch is in the 7th grade. He loves words and enjoys participating in Scrabble tournaments and spelling bees. His favorite books are the Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall. Jem is an avid short story writer and poet and plans to be an author of many novels when he grows up. He also enjoys ping pong, bowling, running, and collecting minerals.

28

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

The Alchemist’s Theorem: Sir Duffy’s Promise Margaret R. Chiavetta www.magrats.wordpress.com

[Review] Something is amiss on the continent of Terra Copia. The members of the Advanced Disciplines Society of Alchemists is searching for the rare Putrid’s Hearts that can draw forth the evil from the earth. Sir Duffy knows this, and so he takes his young apprentice, Mendel, and the two important objects bequeathed to him by his mother on a long quest to hide them safely. But a stranger is in their midst, and the journey becomes much more difficult than Sir Duffy bargained for. The detailed botanical specimens and creatures of the “canny class” were very imaginative and well thought out, and I really liked the use of accents to give the reader a better understanding of the main character’s speech. I thought the unusual twists at the beginning and end were well placed, and they really kept me guessing. All in all, I thought the book a worthwhile read, and I would recommend it to those looking for a fantasy story set in a different world.


LARA’S reads Ages 10-14

The Night Parade Kathryn Tanquary Sourcebooks www.kathryntanquary.com

[Review] Saki Yamamoto is sent to spend her summer vacation in her grandmother’s village, with bad cell reception and nothing to do. She has to help prepare for the Obon ceremony, but it’s all boring and bland to her. Saki befriends the local kids and tries to fit in, breaking a few rules in the process. She rings the sacred bell at her shrine, and a death curse has been put on the town. She is forced to have help from three spirit guides and some new friends to try and undo the curse. If she doesn’t, the living world is gone. I could NOT put this book down. It was filled with twists and turns. With its unique plot and relatable story characters, I was drawn in, sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. Kathryn Tanquary did an amazing job with the book. The novel was a great read, and definitely something I would highly recommend.

Thirteen-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:

29


UNDER THE

COVERS with Will Staehle www.unusualco.com

Artist Will Staehle and artist/author Tania del Rio recently teamed up to create the delightfully strange tale of Warren the 13th, a young (and odd-looking) bellhop in an ancient hotel. Will Staehle, the book’s illustrator, attended art college in Minneapolis and has created artwork for numerous books and other projects. Follow us under the covers as we delve into Will & Warren’s world.

30

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Warren The 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Will Staehle Quirk Publishing Ages 8 - 12


I always planned for Warren to be an intricate and victorian-design influenced book or comic. The interior art was very time-consuming, as I ended up creating over 200 illustrations for the book. But as challenging as that was, the cover was actually an even more difficult process for me! As a professional book cover designer, one would assume that designing my own cover would be an absolute dream project, but it was anything but! It was actually a bit of a nightmare! 31


I created Warren the 13th and his supporting cast over the years (starting in college) and helped craft the plot of book one. Tania del Rio then took the outline that we built (with the help of our editor Jason) and expanded it into the full book’s text. Once the text was finalized and edited, I then designed the interior layout and finished all of the illustrations.

32

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


The cover was created digitally in illustrator and photoshop (from a loose sketch). The cover also features a 3D model of the hotel that I built in Cinema 4D. 33


34

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


The final cover probably only took about two days to execute, but I spent months on and off working on various sketches and designs trying to get it right, as you can see by the rejected covers! 35


I run my own design studio in Seattle where I’ve designed many things over the years, but this is my first original creation to be published as a novel. I’ve designed book covers for authors like: Michael Chabon, Stephen King, Michael Crichton, and hundreds more. I’ve also created logos for animated TV shows like, Disney’s Gravity Falls.

36

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


THE ROYAL

DRAGONEERS M.R. Mathias If you liked Harry Potter and Percy Jackson you will LOVE the Award Winning, Dragoneer Saga by M. R. Mathias. As always Book One - The Royal Dragoneers, is just .99 for Kindle but the whole series is FREE with Kindle Unlimited. Available at

37


on our shelf

The Cat Who Came In off the Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad

Random House Children’s Books

Ages 9–12

Ages 10–14

I

n Tibble’s town, the cats have all the gossip. Atop the roofs, news is passed from one set of whiskers to another—information that Tibble, a reporter, has been having trouble uncovering. Luckily for him, Miss Minou, a strange, cattish lady, walks (rather, climbs) into his life just when he needs a story. Minou’s ability to communicate with the local strays is a big help when Tibble tries to expose a certain local figurehead for treating animals poorly… But isn’t it a bit odd that she can talk to cats? A charming novel, The Cat Who Came In off the Roof is a bit silly and more than a bit loveable. Schmidt’s tale would make any cat curious.

38

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

T

he small Danish island of Bornholm is a pretty calm place, until Inge Maria arrives. Sent to live with her grandmother after her mother’s death, she brings a vibrancy that the people of the tiny town have not seen in a very long time. Though she causes turmoil in the barn, the classroom, and just about everywhere else, too, Inge’s excitement paired with her feeble attempts to be good are appreciated by her new neighbors and might just spark some lightness in her life, as well. This book is an adorable read suitable for troublemakers of all degrees and all ages. Just as charming as any fairy tale, this novel personifies the wonderful extent of children’s imaginations.


The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew Chilton

After the Ashes by Sara K. Joiner

Random House Children’s Books

Holiday House

Ages 8–12

A

true delight to sink your teeth into, The Goblin’s Puzzle is full of witty banter and amusing characters. The story is packed with ridiculous situations reminiscent of The Princess Bride, and stuffed with absurd characters. You are more than just a name or a label; you can be whomever you wish. Take Plain Alice, kidnapped by a dragon because he thinks she is Princess Alice. Plain Alice believes she is plain because she is just a peasant girl, but as the story progresses, readers will see how smart and determined her character is, and how a strong sense of selfworth can overtake doubt and fear. A fun and enjoyable adventure filled with magic and mayhem.

Ages 9–12

E

leven-year-old Katrien is of Dutch descent but has lived her entire life on Java in the East Indies. The first half of the novel sets up her bitter rivalry with another Dutch girl, Brigitta. When the nearby volcano, Krakatoa, erupts, the book takes a sudden and chilling turn. The author brilliantly recreates the horror and devastation of the falling ash, the fearsome quakes, and worst of all, the tsunamis, which killed more than 34,000 people. Katrien and Brigitta are two of the very few survivors and must rely on each other to reach safety. I couldn’t put this book down and can’t recommend it highly enough. A memorable story about friendship and survival. 39


novelty

Ages 9-12

Bandits, lawmen, six shooters, bank robberies, and cowboys were all a part of the Wild West.

But so were camels, buried treasure, and gun-slinging dentists. Dive into strange tales like the mysterious Cave of Gold, filled with ancient skeletons, and Rattle Snake Dick’s lost fortune. Discover the truth about notorious legends like Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, former spy-turned-bandit Belle Star, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Then, learn why it’s unlucky to have a dead man’s hand when playing cards and how to talk like a real cowpoke. It’s all part of the true stories from the Top Secret Files: The Wild West. Take a look if you dare, but be careful! Some secrets are meant to stay hidden...

40

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Top Secret Files: The Wild West Secrets, Strange Tales, and Hidden Facts about the Wild West by Stephanie Bearce Sourcebooks


graphic novel

Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch Abrams | www.amptoons.com

Ages 8-12

W

elcome back to Hereville, where Mirka, the world’s first timetraveling, monster-fighting Orthodox Jewish girl, faces her greatest challenge yet: babysitting! Mirka just wants to find new adventures, but instead she’s stuck babysitting her disapproving little sister, Layele. When Mirka pushes her sister into a stream, they both get in too deep with an angry magic fish. No matter how hard Mirka fights

this fish-out-of-water, it gets stronger and stronger--and it’s out for revenge. When the fish kidnaps Layele, Mirka must find a way to save her little sister, and the clues she needs are hidden in her stepmother Fruma’s past. Mixing adventure, cultural traditions, squabbling siblings, and preteen commotion, Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish is sure to captivate readers with its exciting visuals and indomitable heroine.

41


nonfiction Ages 8-12

Ebola: Fears and Facts by Patricia Newman Lerner Publishing Group www.patriciamnewman.com |

E

bola. From 1976 to 2013, the virus killed about 1,500 people. So why in 2014 did it kill nearly seven times that number? Ebola: Fears and Facts takes kids behind the sensational headlines to address their questions and concerns about the virus. What are the symptoms? Can we catch the virus? How does it spread? Find out how the 2014 epidemic compares to past Ebola outbreaks, and outbreaks of other infectious diseases. Ebola: Fears and Facts will help kids better understand this most-feared disease.

42

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


EST. 1972

HPB.COM UNBOUND

43


BOOK SHELF A Sliver of Sun by Dianna Dorisi Winget By the award winning author of A Million Ways Home and A Smidgen of Sky, A Sliver of Sun is the hilarious, warm-hearted, and piercingly honest story of 10 year old Piper Lee’s struggle to fit in with her brand new step family. Will the misunderstandings, betrayals and triumphs knit them together or rip them apart? www.diannawinget.com Available at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. Walter Plume and the Dehydrated Imagination by Rebecca Lynn Morales

W

alter’s summer looks downright boring. But before his imagination breathes its last breath, Walter stumbles into a mystical land—a land where he has power to create life! He soon finds himself facing off against the evil Ickabod Von Snot-hook in a battle that will change everything. Funny, fast-paced, and full of surprises, this book is guaranteed to leave you laughing. www.rebeccalynnmorales.com www.walterplume.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Mary Crane and a Pompey Hollow Book Club by Jerome Mark Antil

“5

STARS! The club members— all boys except for the steadying influence of President Mary Crane—make their early-teen way through 1950s upstate New York with the help of guardian angel and former neighbor Charlie Pitts, best known as “Ole Charlie.” The tone of the novel is wholesomely earnest, peppered with a dash of old-school mischief and fun.” —FOREWORD www.jeromemarkantil.com Available at Amazon.

*

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.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


BOOK SHELF Gorgon (Whipeye Chronicles, Book 2) by Geoffrey Saign

S

amantha and Jake have two days to save their poisoned parents, and only Gorgon—the cruel and scheming leader of Amazon Lessers—can help them. Mysterious creatures, dragons, and Gorgon force them into a life or death adventure that some will not survive… www.geoffreysaign.net Available at Amazon. Mickey Price: Journey to Oblivion by John P. Stanley

M

ickey, Trace , and Jonah are invited to a NASA camp, but this camp isn’t for summer fun. It’s a training camp for a mission unlike anything they ever dreamed of, an adventure full of danger, thrills, fun, and an interesting cast of characters, not all of which are human.

www.tanglewoodbooks.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Lucy and the Magic Loom by Alice Downes

W

hen Lucy discovers a mysterious package at her front door, she’s certain it’s meant for her. She unties the green string and tears open the simple brown paper to reveal a loom—a golden magic loom, which leads her to a dusty bookcase and through a secret passageway, into an enchanted world. www.skyponypress.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & 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.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


character spotlight by Megan McDonald, Peter H. Reynolds (illustrator) Candlewick Press www.judymoody.com

Ages 6-9

With more than a dozen adventures under her belt (not counting the escapades she shares with her brother, Stink) Judy Moody is America’s favorite 3rd grader and Middle Shelf ’s special guest. 46

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Middle Shelf: So, Judy, if you had a second chance to do one thing differently than you did before, what would it be? Judy Moody: I would not let my little brother Stink-the-Pest into the Toad Pee Club. JKOC! Just Kidding of Course! If I had a second chance, I’d do even more to save the world besides helping trees (like I did in Book 3). I’d save water for the planet, save the penguins, and try to figure out how to not use so much plastic. There’s so much I want to do to save the world, but I’m going to need Rocky, Frank and Amy to help me! MS: Do you have a favourite food?

Judy: Besides paste? And scabs? J—it’s NOT shark. It’s a three-way tie between the world’s biggest pizza (map), Screamin’ Mimi’s mud pie, and toast made by Mouse. MS: What are your hobbies? Judy: So many! Collecting stuff, from Barbie doll heads to scabs. Reading all fifty-six classic Nancy Drew mysteries. Fixing up dolls for sick kids in the hospital. Bugging Stink. Cloning guinea pigs. Making Band-Aid art. Recycling. Saving the world in my free time. MS: You have quite a scab collection. Why do you collect scabs? Judy: I want to be a doctor


when I grow up. Scabs are interesting to look at under a microscope—way better than belly button lint!

And Boston! But the best thing ever was when I won the Giraffe Award for sticking my neck out for others.

MS: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you? Judy: Besides a toad peeing on me or going to an all-boy birthday party and Stink spilling Jungle Juice all over my Me collage? Or the time Rocky was mad and wouldn’t talk to me and I had to dance the tarantella alone? I guess the alltime world’s worst was when I got sent to the Attitude Tent. Boy was I in a bad mad-i-tude.

MS: Why are you so bossy to your brother, Stink? Judy: Because he’s my little brother. Rule Number One of being a big sister is that you’re supposed to be in charge and boss the younger one around.

MS: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you? Judy: I got to go to college!

in-the-toilet jokes on! MS: What puts you in a joyful, on-top-of-spaghettiand-the-world mood? Judy: Lots of stuff: going to college, solving a mystery, saving the world. But also collecting Band-Aids, doing great on my spelling test, making a ME collage, getting my picture (even if it was only my elbow) in the newspaper. The thing that made me MOST joyful on-top-of-the-world was when I cut out tons of paper snowflakes so that Stink could have snow for Christmas.

MS: Do you like being a big sister? Judy: Sometimes it’s lots of responsibility. Like the time Stink fell asleep on the bus and I had to rescue him! Sometimes he’s annoying, a real Stinkerbell. MS: Do you ever get a sore throat from saying ROAR? But it sure is great to have Judy: NO WAY! somebody to play fake-hand-

47


publisher’s corner

Orca Book Publishers www.orcabook.com

Orca Book Publishers is an independently owned Canadian children’s book publisher. With over 730 titles in print and more than 65 new titles a year, Orca publishes awardwinning, best-selling books in a number of genres. Orca prides itself on publishing Canadian authors and bringing them to a wider market.

How did Orca Books get started?

In 1984, Bob Tyrrell couldn’t get anyone to publish his pub guide to Vancouver Island. He published the book himself and then quickly acquired new publishing projects. Having great success with the picture books published, Orca Book Publishers decided to focus on children’s books in 2004.

How did it get its name? The Pacific West Coast link… Orca whales

What makes Orca Books special?

We cover diverse subjects in our fiction, produce beautiful 48

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

nonfiction books and have a strong collection of hi-lo books (high interest and low readability) for reluctant readers in middle-school and high-school. Orca is also committed to publishing books with environmental themes, from the Orca classic Siwiti—A Whale’s Story and In the Company of Whales by whale researcher and wild salmon activist Alexandra Morton to the recent The Salmon Bears—Giants of the Great Bear Rainforest by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read, and Nowhere Else on Earth—Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest by Caitlyn Vernon.


books to check out

What awards/ recognitions have you received?

Our books have received many awards including the Governor General’s, Stonewall, Rainbow, Amelia Bloomer, Sydney Taylor, and the Forest of Reading. The books have also made many awards lists such as Children’s Choice awards, In the Margins and YALSA’s Quick Picks, Popular Paperbacks and Best Fiction.

Tell us about your recent and upcoming middle grade releases.

In Spring 2016, Orca has some exciting new middle readers. We have books with fantasy (The Secret of Grim Hill, The Secret Deepens, Kira’s Quest), diversity (The Tiffin), a spy (Let Sleeping Dogs Lies: Dirk Daring, Secret Agent Book 2), a troll and goblin detective team (Tank & Fizz), young detectives (Forensics Squad Unleashed), time travel, animal stories and more.

Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry Ages 9 - 12

A

lice doesn’t like noise, smells or strangers. She does like rules. Lots of rules. Nobody at her new school knows she has Asperger’s. When she meets Megan in detention, she doesn’t know what to make of her. Megan doesn’t smell, she’s not terribly noisy, and she’s not exactly a stranger, but is she a friend? Megan seems fearless to Alice—but also angry or maybe sad. Alice isn’t sure which. When Megan decides to run away, Alice resolves to help her friend, no matter how many rules she has to break or how bad it makes her feel.

Tank & Fizz: The Case of the Battling Bots by Liam O’Donnell, Mike Deas Ages 8 - 11

F

or monster sleuths Tank and Fizz, proving fourthgrade bully Rizzo Rawlins is planning to cheat in the upcoming Battle Bot Cup should be a piece of cake. But the case soon leads the detectives to a mysterious hacker known only as the Codex, who threatens all of Rockfall Mountain with a very dark fate. With the help of their wizard-in-training partner, Aleetha, Tank and Fizz leap into action, dodging deadly battle bots and sinister spellbooks in a race to stop the return of a very angry ancient demon.

49


best

of the book blogs Broken Dolls by Tyrolin Puxty Curiosity Quills Press Review by

BOOKWORM FOR KIDS

Ages 10-14

E

lla is a doll, once a real girl who due to mysterious and horrid circumstances (which neither we nor Ella are aware of), has been turned into a doll by the ‘Professor’. She’s mostly satisfied with her situation, which already adds a sad tinge to the story. The Professor introduces a friend, Lisa. Unlike Ella, Lisa does remember her past and is not glad that the professor ‘saved’ her by turning her into a doll. Lisa takes this knowledge as a reason to destroy Ella and thwart the professor. This dash of horror definitely adds to the tension, though. When the first human, Gaby, rushes in, the

friendship which develops between Gaby and Ella adds hope and really gets Ella’s character going. The mixture of girl and doll sets off a heart-warming companionship but maintains a melancholy air. There was no way I could set this book down once I got into the pages. It took a bit for me to settle into the slightly disturbing world, and the entire way through, it felt like an off place to visit. But that’s the point, and it’s very well done. It carries just the right amount of disturbing and creepy moments while maintaining enough golden warmth to help cradle a reader through. .  

MIDDLE SHELF’S BEST OF THE BLOGS AWARDS

Middle Shelf would like to recognize the following blogs for promoting and exemplifying the spirit of Middle Grade books. A LIBRARY MAMA ANNIE AND AUNT 50

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ BOOKS FOR BOYS


The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Review by

THE BOOK WARS

I

n The Lightning Dreamer, slavery is explored from a relatively privileged perspective, that of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, or Tula, as she is otherwise known. Because she is a woman, her mother disapproves of her learning, reading, and writing, and thinks that Tula’s only purpose is to get married to a wealthy man who will ensure that her mother and the rest of her family continue living their comfortable lives. However, Tula cannot reconcile herself to this fate and refuses all arrangements/ suitors her mother arranges. She is sent to languish at

Ages 12+ her grandfather’s estate, and there her burgeoning feelings about the unfairness of slavery and slaves peak. She uses her writing to air her views on abolition of slavery, and while the book does not go into too much depth or detail about the consequences of her writing, enough is said to leave the readers with a glimpse into the life of this remarkable woman. The Lightning Dreamer is, ultimately, an uplifting story about a woman’s courage to speak out against what she didn’t believe in and to stand up for what she did believe in. I recommend it.

>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com MICHELLE EISENHOFF BOYS AND LITERACY THE BRAIN LAIR

THE CYBILS FALLING LETTERS FOR THOSE ABOUT TO MOCK 51


poetry

ICARUS

ECHO ECHO: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, Josée Masse (Illustrator) Penguin Young Readers Group www.marilynsinger.net

Ages 6+

52

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

AND

Dark sea is below, bright heaven waits above. I feel the sun’s great glow. I hear him saying, “By Apollo, no! Not too high! Take care, my son!” But, oh, these precious waxen wings so open up the sky! I understand the glory of soaring. I know why we burn to fly!


DAEDALUS We burn to fly. Why, I know the glory of soaring. I understand the sky. So, open up these precious waxen wings, but, oh, My son, take care! Not too high… By Apollo, no! I hear him sayi8ng, “I feel the sun’s great glow.” Bright heaven waits above, dark sea is below.

© 2015 Marilyn Singer, from ECHO ECHO: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths, published by Penguin Young Readers Group 53


LAST WORDS

I’m making history just by existing. The Only Girl in School by Natalie Standiford Scholastic Books

54

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


january/february 2016

contributors BLACKFORD, CHERYL Blackford spent the first part of her life in England and then moved with her family to Minnesota where she earned a Masters Degree in Scientific and Technical Communication at the University of Minnesota. Her first book for children was published in 2011. CARTER, AIMÉE Aimée Carter is the author of The Goddess Test series and The Blackcoat Rebellion series, both out now from Harlequin Teen. Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den, is the first book in a new middle grade series published by Bloomsbury. del RIO, TANIA del Rio is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. As a writer and illustrator, she has worked on several Archie Comics projects including Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty (The Riverdale Diaries). She has also worked for Marvel and Dark Horse. HALE, SHANNON Shannon Hale is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen children’s and young adult novels, including the popular Ever After High trilogy and multiple award winners The Goose Girl, Book of a Thousand Days, and Newbery Honor recipient Princess Academy. KITTSCHER KRISTEN Kittscher is a former middle school English teacher and author of tween mystery The Wig

cool reads for cool kids.

in the Window, which garnered a starred review from School Library Journal, and its sequel The Tiara on the Terrace. She lives with her husband in Pasadena, home of the Rose Parade. OAKES, COREY PUTNAM Despite earning her B.A. in Psychology at UCLA and pursuing a career in law, deep down Oakes always wanted to be a writer. Her dream came true when her first book for teens, The Veil, was published in 2011. She has also published two books for middle grade readers. SEPAHBAN, LOIS California native, Sepahban spent her childhood climbing trees, reading books, and creating maps and leading her brother and sister on hunts for buried treasure. She now lives with her family on a small farm where she has a barn that she fills with animals who need homes. SINGER, MARILYN Born in the Bronx and currently a resident of Brooklyn, Singer began her career teaching English in New York City high schools. Her first book was published in 1976. Since then she has written and published over 90 books for children and young adults and has garnered many awards. STAEHLE, WILL Staehle resides in Seattle, Washington where he runs Unusual Co. He uses his design and illustration background to create bold covers,


january/february 2016

contributors stylized posters, quirky websites and minicomics to ensure that he gets as little sleep as possible. SUTHERLAND, DAYLE Sutherland is the Marketing Director for Orca Book Publishers, based in British Columbia. Orca was founded in 1984 and publishes many books for children, teens, and adults each year. TAMM, HENRIK Tamm is a conceptual designer in Hollywood involved in various animated and live-action projects. He has helped create the worlds of such popular and acclaimed film series as Shrek and the Chronicles of Narnia. Initially published in his home country of Sweden, Ninja Timmy is Henrik Tamm’s first adventure in book form. WAXMAN, MARK S. Waxman is an Emmy-Award-winning comedy writer/producer for television. Earlier in his career, Mr. Waxman was the Vice President of Children’s Programming for CBS and created/wrote/ executive produced the internationally acclaimed kid’s science series, Beakman’s World and the hit comedy Bailey Kipper’s P.O.V. Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX 75085. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids -- January/February 2016  

Find your next favorite book for kids ages 8 to 14 in the new issue of Middle Shelf. In this issue: Shannon Hale, Tania del Rio, Will Staehl...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you