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Interview with Debut Author Rebecca Petruck Animals for All Seasons Inside Sleeping Bear Press

“WhipEye is a gripping, imaginative adventure from start to finish. I didn’t want to put it down until the very last page!... I cannot wait to read book two!”    


amantha and her neighbor, Jake, have no idea that Samantha’s best friend, a parrot named Charlie, is a thousand years old. Charlie is also at the center of a secret battle between magical creatures and an ancient, evil man. When Charlie asks Samantha and Jake to protect him, they are chased by monsters from both sides. To save Charlie, and two worlds, Samantha and Jake have twenty-four hours to figure out how to use the supernatural staff, WhipEye, and find the courage to confront what they fear most… Available in Paperback and eBook at

Watch the book trailer HERE



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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Celebrate the Simple Life! Boys & Girls Ages 8 & Up

Penelope’s Corner: where readers are respected and childhood innocence is protected.

“Penelope is a breath of fresh air.”

A wholesome treasure trove of smiles, giggles and old-fashioned fun.

july/august 2014



a word from the editor


themed books: animals for all seasons


cool reads for cool kids

26 reviews 36

on our shelf




katherine applegate interview with the author of The One and Only Ivan




graphic novel


kirby larson interview with the author of Dash


publisher’s corner


best of the book blogs


debut author interview with rebecca petruck




under the covers with artist brian biggs


last words




character spotlight a visit with fisher bas from The Clone Chronicles

Images from Animalium by Jenny Broom, Candlewick Press, and Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine, Candlewick Press

On the cover: Illustration by Brian Biggs from Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

a word from the



recently returned from a family vacation in Carlsbad, California, where I spent an entire week watching my children swim in the hotel pool and play on the beach while I devoured three entire novels. One of these novels, Painting the Rainbow by Amy Gordon, set during a family’s summer lakeside retreat, is one of several “summer” titles included in this issue of Middle Shelf. Some others are Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine, Nerd Camp 2.0 by Elisa Brent Weissman and The Summer Experiment by Cathie Pelletier. In addition to an exciting collection of reviews and excerpts, Middle Shelf is thrilled to welcome Katherine Applegate, author of the Newbery Award-winning book The One and Only Ivan, and Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson. Both of these ladies have a special place in their hearts—and books—for animals. In their honor, you will discover many wonderful animalthemed titles here, as well. If you prefer sports to animals, Middle Shelf is also pleased to feature The Crossover, a novel in verse about basketball, and Double Reverse, a story about a young football player. And for those of you who love art, illustrator Brian Biggs is our special guest for Under the Covers, our regular feature where you can explore the process behind your favorite book covers. And there’s so much more here to keep you reading all summer long. Happy reading! Laurisa White Reyes editor-in-chief

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An 8th Dwarf? Who knew? ! d i d e t h i W w Sno

Discover three twisted fairytales for YA & middle-grade readers! Fascinating new characters include: Creepy, the previously unknown 8th dwarf. A teen princess who hires a witch to get revenge on a Mean Girl at school. A man who lives high above ground and the boy thief who ruins his night!

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“The verse is crisp and easy to follow, and the stories all tend toward adding dark humor and modern sensibilities to the familiar material.” – Publishers Weekly

ALSO FROM GEMIKNIGHT PRESS Some heroes are born. Others are made . . . BY MISTAKE! Can 4th grader Skyler Mahoney prove that brains can be better than muscles when it comes to battling intergalactic villains? He wasn’t meant for the job, but BOY OH BOY!!! is he pretty good at it!

Rocketboy: The Return of Dr. Megaton The middle-grade novel that mixes humor, action & sci-fi adventure. available on P







author interview

The One and Only Ivan

Ages 8-12 Harper Collins www.

Katherine Applegate T

he One and Only Ivan, which won the Newbery Medal in 2013, tells the tale of Ivan, a silver back gorilla living in a small domain in a shopping mall. His only friends include an elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob. Ivan spends his days drawing pictures and watching TV. But life for Ivan changes when Ruby, a baby elephant, joins their little circus. Unlike Ivan, Ruby was taken from her family and misses the wild where she once lived. Ivan begins to see his world differently and determines to make things better for Ruby and for all of them. Middle Shelf magazine is honored to have Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan, as our featured guest. 6



Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf Magazine. The One and Only Ivan is a story about an unusual kind of friendship. What inspired you to write it? Katherine Applegate: The One and Only Ivan was inspired by a true story. The real Ivan was a Western Lowland gorilla who was captured in central Africa, shipped to the U.S., and housed alone in a cage for 27 years. He was kept, strange as it sounds, in a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington. I first learned about Ivan’s story in a 1993 New York Times article. The headline read: “Gorilla Sulks in a Mall as His Future is Debated.” The story was so maddening, so heartbreaking, and so odd. I knew I wanted to tell it someday. It took me quite a while to figure out how to write “first-person gorilla,” however. I must have rewritten this book a thousand times! Fortunately, my editor, Anne Hoppe, had faith in the story. She’s a very patient woman.

that we humans have a moral obligation, with captive wild animals, to care for them in the best possible way. Many readers have told me that, after reading The One and Only Ivan, they will never again attend a circus that uses wild animals. Schools have raised money to MS: What do you hope readers will take help endangered elephants and gorillas, away from Ivan’s story? and to support their local humane societApplegate: This is, I hope, a story about ies. It’s incredibly gratifying, and gives me resilience, friendship and the importance great hope that our future is going to be in of art in our lives. But it’s also a reminder very capable—and kind—hands.

“When we look at other species, we’re presented with an enduring and fascinating mystery: what would it be like to be them?” 7

MS: You’ve written many books, including co-authoring the Animorphs series with your husband, Michael Grant. Why do you think animals continue to be so popular in books? Applegate: When we look at other species, we’re presented with an enduring and fascinating mystery: what would it be like to be them? To soar the thermals like a red-tailed hawk, to sing in the ocean like an orca, to frolic like a Labrador—it’s hard to resist wondering how that might feel. I think children, in particular, relate in a special way to animals. Both kids and animals have to contend with us adult humans, with our unpredictable rules and strange ways. Animals are vulnerable, in the same way children are. But all that’s just a fancy way of saying the obvious: animals are cool.

East Grand Rapids, Michigan, I was one of the first people in the area to have a pair of gerbils. Their names were Sandy and Max, and Sandy and Max felt it was important to make sure that East Grand Rapids had a healthy representation of gerbils in the general pet population. They had many, many, many babies, which I sold and gave away. Pretty soon the local paper decided to cover my enterprise. The only thing I remember is that they described me as “pert.” I’m still not sure what they meant.

MS: What have been the best surprises about being an author? Applegate: I love school visits! I used to be terrified of public speaking, but how can you be terrified when a classroom treats you like a rock star? I really enjoy “One Book, One School” events, where an entire school—the principal, janitors, crossing guards, teachers, MS: Have you had any pets? Applegate: Oh my, yes! Mostly dogs kids—reads your book. It’s an amazing and cats, fish and guinea pigs: the usual. experience, connecting with so many Right now I have a cat named Lightning people in that way. McQueen (who happens to be a female— long story) and a dog named Stan. I espe- MS: Do you have a favorite book starcially love dogs, for their utter inability to ring an animal? Applegate: I know it’s a cliché, but it’s take the world seriously. When I was ten years old and living in a cliché for a reason: I adore Charlotte’s 8


“The story was so maddening, so heartbreaking, and so odd. I knew I wanted to tell it someday.” Web. I loved it at 7 and at 57. How many illustrations by Brian Karas are so moving. I’m at work on a new middle-grade novel books can you say that about? called Crenshaw (Feiwel & Friends/MacmilMS: Are you working on any other lan) that should be done soon. It may or may not involve a cat. After that, I begin a midbooks right now? Applegate: I just finished a non-fiction dle-grade trilogy for HarperCollins called picture book about Ivan called Ivan: The Endling, about the last animal in a species. I’m noticing a certain animal theme in Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla (Clarion, October, 2014). The all these books. Hmmm... 9


author interview


Ages 8-12 Scholastic, Inc.

Kirby Larson A

lthough Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home—or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. 10


“What is not to love about animals???”

KIRBY Middle Shelf: Tell us about your new book, Dash. Kirby Larson: It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned anything about the evacuation and incarceration of people of Japanese descent during World War II. More than 120,000 people on the West Coast were sent away to camps, and I had not one clue that that had happened. So it’s been a passion of mine to educate myself about this sad slice of American history. One day, I was reading a book called Strawberry Days by Dave Niewert, and he remarked about a person named Mitsi Shiraishi who boldly wrote to General DeWitt (the man who oversaw the evacuation) asking if she could take her dog, Chubby, to the camps. Her story caught both my attention and my heart, and I knew I had to write about it in some way. So I put myself in the shoes of an 11-year-old girl who had to leave everything behind—her friends, her school, the house she grew up in, and even her beloved dog—and began to write the story. MS: You’ve written several books about animals, including Dash’s companion novel, Duke. What drew you to these stories? Larson: With my dear friend Mary Nethery, I’ve written two true animal stories, both involving dogs. After writing those books, I decided I wanted to be owned by a dog. So, in May 2009, Winston B. Larson joined our household. There is some-

thing so pure and unconditional in the love animals share with us; that is something that fascinates me and that I continue to want to explore. In the book I’m working on right now, there’s a cat with amazing abilities who comes to the rescue of a young orphan girl. What is not to love about animals??? MS: How did your dog, Winston, get his name? Larson: Winston is named after Winston Churchill, my husband’s hero. But his registered name is Winnie B From the Hundred Acre Wood, which is a tribute to Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne. And to my friend, Mary Nethery, who called Winston Winnie B from the very get-go. MS: In 2007 your historical novel Hattie Big Sky received a Newbery Honor. Was that a surprise? Larson: Winning that award was the biggest surprise of my life. I had no idea the book was even being considered. It was beyond my wildest dreams! I still get the chills when I think about that day. MS: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Larson: I’m a huge reader (impossible to be a writer without reading); and I love walking Winston, especially on the beach. I adore bird watching (though I’m terrible at identifying birds), yoga, cooking for my family and spoiling my first grandchild rotten. 11


debut author interview

Steering Toward Normal

Ages 9-13 Amulet Books

Rebecca Petruck E

ighth grade is set to be a good year for Diggy Lawson: He’s chosen a great calf to compete at the Minnesota State Fair, he’ll see a lot of July, the girl he secretly likes at 4-H, and he and his dad Pop have big plans for April Fool’s Day. But everything changes when classmate Wayne Graf’s mother dies, which brings to light the secret that Pop is Wayne’s father, too. Suddenly, Diggy has a half brother, who moves in and messes up his life. What started out great quickly turns into the worst year ever, filled with jealousy, fighting, and several incidents involving cow poop. But as the boys care for their steers, pull pranks, and watch too many B movies, they learn what it means to be brothers and change their concept of family as they slowly steer toward a new kind of normal. 12


“Raising a show steer takes a giant, generous heart.”

REBECCA Middle Shelf: Your bio says you are a “former member of 4-H.” What is 4-H? Rebecca Petruck: 4-H was founded in 1902, though its roots stretch back to the late 1800s. Today, the organization has six and a half million members and more than sixty million alumni. In other words, there are a lot of 4-H’ers out there doing lots of interesting stuff, [including] environmentalism, filmmaking, robotics, veterinary science, and animal care. MS: How did 4-H influence your novel, Steering Toward Normal? Petruck: Raising a show steer takes a giant, generous heart because even show steers are only and ever beef cattle. At the end of the State Fair, steers are sold and loaded onto the packer’s truck for slaughter. It took me a long time to understand how students could go through such a thing year after year. Walter Earle, a cattleman, longtime 4-H administrator, and livestock judge, explains it best when he says, “We want our steers to have only one bad day. And crying on that day means you did a good job taking care of your animals.” I think [the book’s characters] Diggy and Wayne learn how to love each other— even when they’re angry—because of their experiences coping with their love for and loss of their steers.

Petruck: Keeping one’s heart open, knowing there will be pain, is scary and difficult, but I think it’s the truest way to live a happy and full life. Not raising a show steer because of the inevitable goodbye comes at the cost of missing a year full of the joys of caring for an animal—the work is always nothing compared to the camaraderie, fun, and unconditional love one receives. I think anyone who has a pet understands this even if they don’t always get how it relates to caring for one’s annoying/loud/ smart-aleck/not-actually-related sibling.

MS: Were any of the pranks in the book based on actual events? Petruck: I admit nothing. The Fifth MS: How can Diggy and Wayne’s expe- Amendment gives me the right not to riences help readers deal with some of incriminate myself. That’s a good Amendtheir own family difficulties? ment. Probably my favorite. Author Photograph: Addie Wuensch


themed books:


ages 8+


r. Franklin’s Staticy Cat is a collection of of thought-provoking, energetic, whimsical short stories for kids with original illustrations by the multitalented, multi-faceted, highlycaffeinated author/artist, Rolli! This book has a story about a cat who helped discover static electricity. And one about a different cat who helped invent perfume. There’s the tale of a tiger with an elevator in its stomach, and one about a cat who’s a maestro on the fiddle. But don’t worry, this book has people stories, too! One’s about a girl who’s also a bee, a boy with a bike that’s both quick and mysterious, and a gal who vows to live in a tree. Then...more cats! Eighteen delightful stories in all, each one certain to charm kids, parents, cats and elephants of all ages! 14


Illustrated by Alison Friend Candlewick Press

ages 5-8


ramble, a persnickety but lovable horse, and Maggie, her patient owner, build an even stronger friendship as they brave the surprises of autumn. In their third adventure, Bramble and Maggie explore a new season together—fall! Leaves crunch underfoot. Acorns ping off rooftops. It all makes Bramble feel wonderfully spooky. But Bramble’s frisky-pretend-scary gait makes Maggie jumpy, and soon Bramble really is nervous. There are alarming new sights and sounds everywhere, like Mr. Dingle’s scarecrow. When Maggie takes a fall, will she want to get back in the saddle? And when Halloween comes, can Maggie trust Bramble to brave the tricks and lead them both safely to the treats?



by Jenny Broom Illustrated by Katie Scott

by Lutricia Clifton

Candlewick Press

ages 8–12


elcome to the Museum is a series of books set on the “walls” of the printed page, showcasing the world’s finest collections of objects—from natural history to art. Open 365 days a year and unrestricted by the constraints of physical space, each title in this series is organized into galleries that display more than 200 fullcolor specimens accompanied by lively, informative text. Offering hours of learning, this first title within the series— Animalium—presents the animal kingdom in glorious detail with illustrations from Katie Scott, an unparalleled new talent.

Holiday House

ages 9-12


welve-year-old Sam dreams of owning a purebred puppy, convinced they are superior to a mongrel like Max, the family’s ancient pet. Smelly, disheveled, and affectionate, Max is a walking miracle, near death’s door when Sam’s sister rescued him. That’s too bad, for Sam’s mother says no new dog if it’s going to bother Max. Undaunted, Sam decides to save enough money to buy a puppy anyway and takes a job walking dogs in the fancy gated community in his rural town. There he clashes with Justin, a rich, pampered “burbie” who owns just the kind of dog Sam wants: a sable German Shepherd. Justin is determined to get Sam fired and destroy his dream. Their feud, echoing the conflict between rich city transplants and the townies, escalates into violence. But maybe dishelved old Max can help to save the day? 15

themed books:



by Phillip Kerr

by Natalie Ghent

Random House Children’s book/236694/the-winterhorses-by-philip-kerr


ages 12-17

illhouse is a fainthearted, hairless guinea pig. A great lover of all things theatrical, most especially the work of William Shakespeare, Milly longs for the limelight and someone to love. However, after the death of his beloved owner, the great actor Sir Roderick Lord Kingswagger, Millhouse is abandoned to a neglected and dusty pet shop filled with other rodents— some rude, some odd, some cute and some downright frightening. Finding himself a reviled outcast and a target of the nasty Pepper Brown ferret, Millhouse sets about trying to find a way back to the theater and a happy home, and in doing so experiences more drama than he could ever have imagined.


t will soon be another cold winter in the Ukraine. But it’s 1941, and things are different this year.  Max, the devoted caretaker of an animal preserve, must learn to live with the Nazis who have overtaken this precious land. He must also learn to keep secrets—for there is a girl, Kalinka, who is hiding in the park. Kalinka has lost her home, her family, her belongings—everything but her life.  Still, she has gained one small, precious gift: a relationship with the rare wild and wily Przewalski’s horses that wander the preserve. Aside from Max, these endangered animals are her only friends— until a Nazi campaign of extermination nearly wipes them out for good. Now Kalinka must set out on a treacherous journey across the frozen forest to save the only two surviving horses—and herself. 16


ages 7-10




by S.J. Dahlstrom

by Catherine Hapka

Paul Dry Books


ages 8-12

ages 8-12


ilder spends a week in west Texas at his grandfather’s ranch as his mother receives treatment for breast cancer in Colorado. Wilder’s grandfather, who he calls Papa, is gruff and sometimes intimidating to Wilder yet they both care for each other very much. Wilder works cattle on horseback and explores the rough ranch country with Papa who is both a widower and a cowboy.  They go on a hunt for whitetail deer in the cottonwood bottoms, which is an ancient buffalo wallow. A few days later a cowboy crew comes to the ranch to work Papa’s cattle. Wilder gets the opportunity to do the strenuous and sometimes dangerous work with grown men. Together Wilder and Papa face several trials that only a place like Texas can provide.


adison “Maddie” Martinez loves her weekly riding lessons, and she loves working with her favorite horse, Cloudy, every time. So she is shocked when she finds out Cloudy’s former owners might want to buy her back! Maddie desperately concocts various plans to stop the sale: maybe she can raise money to buy Cloudy herself, or what if she can make the potential buyers lose interest? Maddie’s online Pony Post friends—Brooke Rhodes, Hayley Duncan, Nina Peralt, who all share a love of Chincoteague ponies—can tell something is up, but at first Maddie is afraid to tell them what’s happening. If she loses her only connection to Chincoteague, will they even want to be friends with her anymore? 17











KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.









Ages 10-17 A Less Than Perfect Peace by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan Eerdmans Books for Young Readers |


unny how a bunch of snow could make folks lose track of some really important things. Like, despite Daddy’s fine words about being “just dandy,” he wasn’t. But he was stubborn. Just before we left Seattle, he told Mama to chuck out the newsletter from an army buddy he’d met in the convalescent hospital back East. Some of the blind vets had started a group, and his old friend had urged him to get involved. Daddy said he didn’t need any help, didn’t have time, and wasn’t the least bit interested in what they had to offer. “I already know Braille, I have my fine white cane, and I rarely find myself needing to use either of them,” were his exact words. He rarely said a word about the war anymore. He didn’t laugh all that much either, or smile a lot, come to think of it. He did talk about how he liked nothing better than to hear my “sweet voice” read to him from Life magazine. One thing I knew for sure, my voice, sweet or not, wasn’t enough. Seemed like a lot of feelings had been simmering just under the surface and no one in the family was brave enough to speak them out loud. Then that blizzard roared in. First thing that crazy morning, Mama started doling out chores in her best drill sergeant voice. Nothing was going the way she’d planned. She was a bundle of nerves. This was the weekend she had planned to hold the grand opening of her very own

beauty salon downtown. When things didn’t quite go the way she wanted, Mama had a way of fluttering around the house like a wild bird trapped indoors, bumping into anything or anyone standing in her way. I figured everyone was jittery. The war had been over for almost five years, and my parents must have wondered when in the world, if ever, our lives would settle down and be the same as before. A Less Than Perfect Peace. Copyright © 2014 by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, MI.




Ages 8-12 Nerd Camp 2.0 by Elissa Brent Weissman Atheneum Books for Young Readers |


he main difference between Zack and his stepbrother, Gabe, could be summed up by baseball cards: Zack collected baseball cards to trade with his friends, while Gabe slid baseball cards under the strap of his night brace to prevent the headgear from itching his skull. When Zack first saw that Gabe had brought baseball cards with him for his weekend in New York City, he was surprised and impressed. The stepbrothers finally had something in common. “You collect?” Zack asked. “Want to trade?” “That’d be good,” said Gabe. “Mine are starting to get permanent indents, and that defeats the purpose.” “What do you mean?” Zack asked. Gabe took his night brace out of his duffel bag and wrapped it around his head, hooking it to pieces of metal on either side of his teeth. He then slid five baseball cards underneath the strap, from one ear to the other. “See?” he said. “I need to wear this whenever I’m at home, and all night. The fabric itches, though, so I put the cards underneath. An added bonus is that the cards keep my hair from getting too creased.” “Dude,” said Zack. “With that thing on, I don’t think anybody’s looking at your hair.” “Ha-ha,” said Gabe, removing the cards but not the headgear. “What do you do with your baseball cards, then?” “I collect them,” Zack said. “See?” He

took out a small binder that was filled with pages of plastic sleeves. In each sleeve was a baseball card, and not one was creased or dented in any way. “My best ones are up front here, and they get worse as you go back. But sometimes I mix it up. I put some good ones toward the back so people won’t know if I’m trying to give them my worst cards.” Nerd Camp 2.0. Copyright © 2014 by Elissa Brent Weissman. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.





Ages 10-14 The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth Algonquin Books |


evin thought of the sky dark with rain and the way the stream at the farm ran too fast to hold. “You can’t own water,” he protested. Kit rolled her eyes. “Well, they do. They own it. They own control of it. Along with just about everything else.” “But how? How did they get everything?” She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess they just grabbed it. And everyone else needs what the rich have, so they just go on getting richer. It’s the way it is. The rich have a lot, most other people have a little, and then there’s us. We don’t have anything at all. “Lots of kids in our group,” she added. “But don’t they have homes?” “Used to. Some of them had good homes before their parents died or weren’t able to feed them anymore. Lots are runaways.” “What about you?” Devin asked. “Are you a runaway?” Kit shrugged again. “My parents ran away from me. I came back one day and they’d left. Best day of my life.” “My granddad used to live here when he was young,” Devin began. “He said it was different then. It changed when it started to get hot. People stopped looking out for each other and lots of things that used to be organized just turned into a big mess.” “Yeah?” Kit said without much interest. “Well, it’s like this now. And it’s not going to change. Some of the kids talk about get-

ting out, how they heard about a kid who got adopted by rich people and went to live in luxury forever. Or that there’s a home somewhere where they feed you and you can play all day and have everything you want. But it’s just fairy tales.” Kit’s mouth set in a fierce line. “Fact is,” she said, “we’re on our own.” The One Safe Place. Copyright © 2014 by Tania Unsworth. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, NC.




Ages 10-14 Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine Candlewick Press |


ere’s what I know about girls. They like talking and combing their hair with their fingers, and they move in careful packs, like wolves. They smell like soap and bees. They speak at two volumes: megaphone loud and impossible-to-hear whisper. Even when they’re huddled together in hushed conversations, they keep their eyes trained outward, scoping the scene like Secret Service agents. I’m pretty sure they can communicate telepathically, too. They often dress exactly alike—showing up one day all in jean jackets and another day in ruffled skirts and flip-flops—as if they have access to the same secret dress code. In class, they keep their eyes on the teacher, but they can actually see in every direction. I’m sure of it. If you scratch your armpit or put your finger anywhere near your nose, you’ll set off a round of giggles. Girls shriek, and they laugh over the smallest things. Words, even. Prune. Waddle. Unruly. I hardly ever get what’s funny. Sometimes I’m not even sure they do. On the first day of summer vacation, my mom and I were loading the car for our annual trip to my grandmother’s cabin when three girls from school rode by on their bikes. The moment they spotted me, they turned into the driveway with the precision of a team of Blue Angels and came to a stop inches from the car. Today’s dress code was short shorts and nail polish the

color of root beer. “Going someplace?” asked Emma. She always talked first. “Yeah,” I said. “Where?” asked Margaret, glancing skeptically at my hole-pocked sneakers. “To see my grandma,” I said. The girls laughed. As usual, I had no idea why. Three Bird Summer. Copyright © 2014 by Sara St. Antoine. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.




science fiction

Ages 8-12 Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, Illustrated by Brian Biggs Amulet Books |


lank lumbers to his feet. Klink resets his recalculating GPS brain. Watson sorts through a stack of papers and finds the one he is looking for. “Hey, Frank, what do we want—” Electrical impulses in Frank’s brain cells connect, multiply, form a pattern, make an idea. “That’s it!” says Frank. “Exactly, Watson. What do we want? And we work back from there.” Frank starts pacing again. “First, obviously, win the Midville Science Prize. But more importantly—master all science. The word comes from the Latin for knowledge. We want science.knowledge. Klink and Klank, your robot brains make this possible.” “Obviously,” says Klink. “Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo,” hums Klank. Frank points to a picture on his Wall of Science. “Like this guy, Aristotle. He wanted the science of everything.” Watson answers, “No—” “You’re right, Watson,” says Frank. “It’s not about Aristotle. Let’s divide all of science into six areas. Then, with Klink and Klank, we study each area, and we learn everything!” Frank pins a symbol to the top left corner of the Wall. “First, matter. Atoms, molecules, elements, compounds. States of matter. What atoms are made of—protons, neutrons, electrons. And antimatter.” Watson holds up one hand. “Yeah, but—” “But what about ?” asks Frank. “Exactly. That’s next, Watson.” Frank pins a second

symbol to the top of the Wall, next to the first. “Energy. It’s what makes all life possible. We are alive because energy from the sun is converted into food...that we convert back to energy to run everything in our bodies. And there’s light, sound, motion, magnetism, electricity—all different kinds of energy. Then there are Forces, Laws of Motion.” Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor. Copyright © 2014 by Jon Scieszka. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Amulet Books, New York, NY.




Ages 10-14 Double Reverse by Fred Bowen Peachtree Publishers |


ou gonna ask him?” Quinn asked. “I don’t know,” Jesse said. “I mean…I’m not really QB material.” Langston dismissed Jesse’s second thoughts. “Don’t put yourself down. You sure looked like a quarterback practicing with us yesterday afternoon.” “Even your brother said you looked pretty good,” Quinn added. “That’s just messing around and running patterns in the park.” Jesse eyed his friends. “I mean, it’s not like Quinn here is a real wide receiver.” “Hey, what do you mean?” Quinn frowned. “I caught almost every pass you threw me. I think I’d make a good tight end. If the coaches would let me.” He gave Langston a good-humored shove. “And Langston was good too…for a little guy.” “I don’t know…,” Jesse repeated. “Come on, you can’t back down now,” Quinn said, pushing open the door of the locker room. “You promised your brother, remember?” Jesse remembered. He’d promised his brother again early that morning as Jay piled into the family car for the ride back to college. Jay was keeping his part of the deal. Now it was time for Jesse to keep his. “You gotta give it a try, man,” Langston said. He lowered his voice so none of the other freshman players could hear him. “You’re better than Kurt.”

When Jesse stepped out onto the practice field, he saw Coach Butler and Coach Vittone talking together. “Now’s your chance,” Quinn insisted. Jesse could feel Quinn’s hand on his back. “Okay, okay. Quit pushing.” Jesse took a deep breath. It was now or never. “Hey, Coach!” Jesse hoped his greeting didn’t sound too cheery. Double Reverse. Copyright © 2014 by Fred Bowen. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.



Available at








M O .C s5 e g a For


On October 14, 1947, Captain Chuck Yeager of the United States

Air Force flew the specially built X-1 rocket plane through the sound barrier and brought the world of aviation into a new era. Previous to that time, many airplanes had approached the speed of sound only to be horribly shaken by mysterious forces and sometimes even destroyed. Captain Yeager undertook a series of flights into the unknown as he flew faster and faster until the seeming miracle of supersonic speed was achieved. With the knowledge that engineers gathered from the Yeager and later test flights, they were able to build a whole new generation of military fighters and other aircraft that could fly at speeds well above the speed of sound.


TEAK recommends

Ages 8-12 Teak Balena is 13 years old and in the 7th 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.



Thrones & Bones by Lou Anders

Random House Children’s Books [Review] Thrones & Bones is a fantastic page-turner that always keeps you on your toes. When I picked up the book for the first time, I couldn’t put it down! This action-packed novel has trolls, undead warriors, frost giants, and so much MORE! Once a year, the farmers and a frost giant village meet at a sacred location to trade and bargain goods for a week. Both Thianna, a half-breed frost giant, and Karn, next in line to inherit the Hauld, arrive to trade for their first time. Then things get wild… Thrones & Bones is one of the best books out there. There is so much detail and action. One moment you are being hunted by wolves, and the next, two headed trolls! The adventure of Thianna and Karn is something you don’t want to miss!

LARA’S reads

Ages 9-12 The Summer Experiment

by Cathie Pelletier Sourcebooks

[Review] The Summer Experiment was a fast and compelling read. It was a book of mystery and humor, something I really like to read. If you like one or both of those genres, you’ll love this book and you won’t want to put it down. Roberta and her friend REALLY want to win the state science fair. But every year, their one rival, Henry Horton Harris Helmsby, always beats them. This year, they think they can win. They have the entire summer to come up with a project, and Roberta already has an idea. Henry’s got skill, but Roberta and her friend think they have more. Can they win? WILL they win? Read the book to find out more, I recommend it!

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 Brian Biggs


rian Biggs always knew he wanted to be an artist, except for the time when he wanted to be an NFL quarterback. As a boy, he drew pictures, read books, and told and wrote stories. Today he is a successful illustrator of numerous children’s books, including Garth Nix’s One Beastly Beast, Katherine Applegate’s Roscoe Riley Rules and Jon Scieszka’s Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor, which comes out this August. Follow us Under the Covers as Middle Shelf delves into the world of Brian Biggs.



In the fifth grade we had an author visit my school—I wish I could remember who it was, he wrote a story about pirates—and I was stunned that this person, this man that looked somewhat like my dad, was someone who made books. Real people can just make books? I’m in. Several artists influenced the Frank Einstein series, including Rube Goldberg and his contraptions, old sci-fi magazine covers, Hardy Boys and Tom Swift book covers, and those great anonymous science textbooks. Also less “artistic” work—how-to drawings for home improvement books, instructions for fixing things, dictionary diagrams, comic books, and certainly old monster movies. Also, Star Wars and John Steinbeck, believe it or not. 29

The author, Jon Scieszka, and I would meet up in Brooklyn or sit on the phone and throw around stupid ideas, looking for ways to either make them work or convince the publisher that they’re already working. It was really a blast. Eventually, they actually had to split us up so we could just get the work done without coming up with new hilarious amazing ideas.



We went through a lot of ideas with Frank Einstein. Originally, Jon Scieszka and I had the idea to play with some kind of journal idea. So like a field guide or a notebook that a scientist might use. We also went through a phase of ideas that were inspired by science textbooks. We liked the patterns made with atoms and molecular structures, but then also panels with the characters in action. Robots running, science experiments, and so on.


After months of struggling and sketching, I sat down one morning and in less than an hour drew the sketch that became the cover. As soon as I did it, everyone knew we’d nailed it. There were some tweaks to the type and some layout details, but as you can see in the sketch images, it was there.



I draw the sketches in pencil, then the final drawing is done with ink and brush on thick illustration paper called bristol board. This drawing is scanned into the computer, and I use Photoshop for all of the color, as well as a lot of textures and patterns and finishing touches. I have a digital drawing tablet with a pen, for which I’ve designed custom “brushes” that mimic the ones I use with ink. This allows me to be able to “paint” with the computer and have it look and feel like my actual drawings. 33

The reason I use digital for color is so that I can try out different colors and ideas, and not have to start over if I don’t like it. This comes in handy ALL THE TIME.



I’ve illustrated about fifty books. Most importantly, however, is the series of books called Everything Goes, that I both wrote and illustrated.


on our shelf

Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson Random House Children’s Books ages 8–12


Chronicle Books ages 8–12


urricane Katrina hits New Orleans at a most inconvenient time for Armani Curtis—right in the middle of her tenth birthday party. Instead of eating jambalaya and cake, Armani and her family are forced to escape the floodwaters and cling to one another as life as they know it is swept away with the storm. A gripping story of survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere reveals the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the dangers faced by those in its path. Readers will be comforted by the closeness of the Curtis family and the reminder that having hope is never futile.

oys of Blur combines feelings of living in the South with supernatural elements. The writing is unique, brilliant and amazing. The story begins by weaving in elements and feelings of the South so that you feel as if you are in Taper, Florida. But then small inconsistencies begin to occur: a strange man in battle armor in the muck, a round stone where creatures rest and die, and a muck monster that smells of decay and hate. Then Charlie learns that the secrets of the muck have existed for hundreds of years, and that for nearly that long, people and dead bodies have gone missing. Charlie also learns of the long struggle that continues as good battles evil. I highly recommend this book. 36

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana


WhipEye by Geoffrey Saign

Painting the Rainbow by Amy Gordon

KiraKu Press

Holiday House

ages 8-12


hen Samantha helps Charlie, a talking parrot, escape from a pet store, she soon finds herself at the center of an ancient battle between good and evil. Charlie is not just a parrot. He is a thousandyear-old Methuselah, the last of ten creatures like himself. Saign’s compelling tale was hard to put down. There was plenty of magic and mystery to keep me turning pages. Samantha and her friend Jake are characters kids can relate to. And the underlying theme of protecting those who cannot protect themselves (such as animals) gives this story heart. WhipEye is a thrilling magical adventure with surprises at every turn, a story that deserves to be read.

ages 9–12


ousins Holly and Ivy spend every summer with their grandparents at Otter Lake, but this year they make uncovering the mystery surrounding their uncle’s death during World War II and his connection to a Japanese boy named Kiyo a priority. Painting the Rainbow explores the fear and racist attitudes that resulted in thousands of Japanese Americans being incarcerated during World War II, issues still relevant today. Gordon masterfully weaves the story of Kiyo in 1943 with that of the Greenwood family in 1965. Part historical novel, part mystery, Painting the Rainbow is a touching tale about standing up for what is right. A perfect summer read for any age. 37

character spotlight

Ages 8-12

The Clone Chronicles by M.E. Castle EgmontUSA

Meet Fisher Bas 12 years old, growth-stunted, a geeky science genius, and son of the Nobel Prizewinning creators of the Bas-Hermaphrodite-Sea-Slug-Hypothesis. No surprise: Fisher isn’t exactly the most popular kid in his middle-school, tormented daily by the beefy, overgrown goons he calls The Vikings. But he senses relief when he comes upon the idea of cloning himself—creating a second Fisher to go to school each day while he stays at home playing video games and eating Cheetos with ketchup. It’s an ingenious plan that works brilliantly, until Fisher’s clone turns out to be more popular than him—and soon after gets clone-napped by the evil scientist Dr. Xander. 38


Hi Fisher! So, what’s it like being the son of a Nobel Prize-winning scientist? Fisher: Being good enough at something to win a Nobel usually requires you to spend pretty much all of your time doing it and not a lot of time learning how to be a functional human being. So it’s sort of like living with a chimpanzee on stilts who happens to be amazing at biochemistry. MS: What gave you the idea of cloning yourself? Fisher: I’m in the 7th grade. I don’t know if you remember 7th grade or if your brain mercifully blotted out that part of your memory, but I would’ve cloned an 80-foot flying shark if it had gotten me out of middle school. Especially if that shark had devoured three lumpy mountains of puberty-gone-awry who call themselves the Vikings. Hang on, let me write down this flying shark idea... MS: Did your experiment turn out the way you had hoped? Fisher: The way I originally hoped, no. I admit, my plan at first was entirely selfish and not very nice to my clone. I wanted to throw him into the jaws of school life so he’d suffer through it in my place. In the end, it turned out much better than I’d hoped. Instead of a clone servant, I have a real brother. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. MS: There are plenty of geniuses to go around in your books. Tell us about

your Nemesis, Doctor X. Fisher: Dr. X started out a lot like me. A small kid with a big brain who had no friends. But things didn’t take a turn for the better the way they have with me, and he just got more and more mad at the world. His presence cast a shadow over Palo Alto for a long time, locked up in his big factory with all his robot workers. Or at least we thought he was. Actually, he spent a lot of his time teaching biology in my middle school. MS: What has been your greatest challenge so far? Fisher: Hmm... sneaking into Dr. X’s huge, well-guarded base? Battling robotic dinosaurs in a trapfilled artificial jungle? Okay, okay, to be perfectly honest, there’s this girl. Let’s call her, um, Beronica. I have some feelings for her. And by “some,” I mean... a lot. Speaking a complete sentence to her without tripping over my own elbows or coming very close to cardiac arrest may have been my biggest challenge of all. MS: Will there be a fourth Clone Chronicles? Fisher: As much craziness has ensued so far, my adventures aren’t over just yet. And the fourth Clone Chronicles book may be the craziest of all. You’ll hear plenty more when it’s closer to release. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy Game of Clones! 39


Ages 8-12

Ghost hunter extraordinaire or lost soul forever!


ou’ve heard spooky stories about the old house on the hill on your street. It’s been said that a man was found mummified inside the house long ago. Your friends dare you to go inside and investigate. Do you really believe that it’s haunted? There’s only one way to find out . . . This could be your chance to be a hero. Do you change the course of history, or do you meet a ghostly fate? You Choose is a series of interactive books where the reader gets to make key decisions about how the story progresses. Numerous intertwining story paths and a plethora of different endings (many of them resulting in certain death) combined with a variety of genres and an odd assortment of really weird characters should provide a roller-coaster ride of a reading adventure. 40


You Choose Book 4: The Haunting of Spook House by George Ivanoff Illustrated by James Hart Random House Australia

nonfiction Ages 10+

The Art of Lego Design by Jordan Schwartz No Starch Press


he most impressive LEGO models often take careful planning (and lots of pieces), but with some inspiration, a little imagination, and a number of tried-and-true techniques, you too can turn bricks into a masterpiece. In The Art of LEGO® Design, author Jordan Schwartz explores LEGO as an artistic medium. This wide-ranging collection of creative techniques will help you craft your own amazing models as you learn to see the world through the eyes of some of the greatest LEGO builders. Each concept is presented with a collection of impressive models to spark your imagination, like fantastic dragons, futuristic spaceships, expressive characters, and elaborate dioramas. Interviews with the talented builders behind many of the book’s models reveal their thoughts on the design process and what inspires them most. Even if you’ve been building with LEGO since you could crawl, you’ll find new inspiration in The Art of LEGO Design. UNBOUND


graphic novel

Comics Squad Recess by Dav Pilkey, Dan Santat, Jarrett J. Krosoczka & more Random House Children’s Books

Ages 7-10


owza! Calling all kidz! Do you like comics? Do you like laughing ‘til milk comes out of your nose?! Look no further—do we have the book for you! All your favorite comic creators are right here in this handy-dandy hilarious book! This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject—RECESS! Comics Squad also features Pizza Monsters! Secret ninja clubs! Aliens!



Talking desserts! Dinozilla! Deathdefying escapes! Bad guys! Good guys! Medium guys! Superheroes! Bullies! Mean girls! Epic battles! True love! Outlandish schemes! Evil plans! Fun! Jokes! Terrible puns! And other surprises that will tickle your funny bone! WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS. No assembly required. (Pizzatron 2000 not included.)





Announcing the Third Annual Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Independently Published Book, sponsored by Bowker.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS The winner, finalists, and more than 100 notable books entered in the competition will be featured in the December/January 2015 issue of Shelf Unbound magazine. View last year’s winners HERE

BOOK Esme Dooley by Jane Donovan and Rosie McTozy


inner of a gold medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, this is a humorous tale of two cousins, Esme and Tommy. The two eleven-year-olds embark on a golden journey across Minnesota in 1904, but calamity strikes, endangering their friendship, their hopes, and their very lives. Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Indiebound, Ingram, and Goodreads. Conversations at the Well by Rabbi Birdie Becker


onversations at the Well offers a modern setting for sacred text to be read with humor and wisdom. For personal enjoyment, sharing with children and grandchildren or a source for study, here Torah, midrash and song are interwoven through eight short stories. Jealousy, forgiveness, family conflict, death and other timeless issues are explored as twenty-first century characters bring life and relevance to ancient stories. Sheet music included. 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. 214.704.4182.

Hapenny Magick by Jennifer Carson illustrated by P.A. Lewis


s the tiniest Hapenny in the Wedge, Maewyn Bridgepost spends her days scrubbing the hearth, slopping the pigs and cooking for her guardian, Gelbane. As if life as a servant isn’t bad enough, Maewyn discovers that Gelbane is a troll, and hapennies are a troll delicacy! “Carson has created a delightful story of joy and wonder and courage.” —Jim Hines, author of the Goblin Hero series. Available through book distributors Baker and Taylor, Ingram, Midpoint Trade Books or retailers Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM, or your favorite book store.

BOOK Tiny Bigfoot’s Big Choice by Jennie M. Bragaw


hether he is becoming one with the universe or shooting the tube like a furry, fourlegged, waggytailed bullet, Tiny Bigfoot is the ultimate California surf dog. Travel the Pacific Coast Highway with Tiny Bigfoot and his friends on a surf journey that is as much about building character as it is about hanging ten. Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Quackers Wants to Fly by Susan Wolff


his is one of those stories that little ones will ask for again and again. Loveable Quackers wants something all young children want, “to be like the big guys.” With help from his Friends at the Pond, Quackers finds a way to be patient just long enough for his wish to come true. Parents and grandparents will want to add this title to their collection of favorite bedtime stories. Available at Amazon.

Golbo the Spider’s Amazing Vacuum Cleaner Adventure by Faiz Kermari Illustrated by Korey Scott


acuum cleaners… What could be more dangerous? The threat from these evil machines had been drilled into Golbo the Spider at an early age, ever since his Uncle Snotkrunch had been sucked into one while going for a stroll after a family meal. Dodging vacuum cleaners was Golbo’s second nature, but one day something went wrong. Horribly wrong! Available at Amazon and Lulu.


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 The Popularity Papers: Book Seven: The LessThan-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow

The Awakening of the Desert by Julius Birge, with introduction by Barbara Birge


n the final adventure in the Popularity Papers series by Amy Ignatow, the world of Hamlin Junior High is rocked when Lydia and Julie learn that they’re going to have to play host to new students. Their long quest for popularity takes a disastrous turn when their journal falls into the wrong hands. It’s the biggest threat to their friendship and it can only be solved one way: dance battle.

ake an adventurefilled1866 wagontrain trip into the Old West! Native Americans on the warpath, early settlers, Civil War veterans, herds of buffalo and breathtaking nature along the Oregon Trail come to life in this first-hand account. In paperback, e-book and an audiobook perfect for family travel.

Available at Abrams Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, BooksAMillion, Indigo, and Powell’s Books

Hear a sample or look inside the book. Available at Amazon, Audible, and the iTunes Store.


Five Angels by Carolann C. McGrath


unique book that has five short stories, each with an angel and a moral. The book was written for 9- to 13-year old readers, but all adults who have read it loved it. The favorite story among readers is the fifth story about a blind horse and a young girl with an angel watching over them. Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Alibris, and BooksAMillion.

The Illuminated Forest by Edwin Fontánez “FIVE STARS!” —ForeWord Clarion Reviews “COMPELLING” —Kirkus Reviews 12-year-old Mateo returns to his grandparents’ island to deal with a family tragedy. From the moment he arrives, a series of terrifying events turn his world upside down. A stray cat with a mohawk, a ruthless town bully, and a lost ghost mysteriously come together and change his life forever., Available at Amazon and Follett Library Resource.

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publisher’s corner

We are very proud of and grateful for the personal relationships we’ve formed with the remarkably gifted authors and illustrators who work with us. They are integral to our success. –Heather Hughes, Publisher

How Sleeping Bear Press Got Started

after the famous Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore area in northern-Michigan. The name was given to the company by the founder because of his fond memories of summer spent with his family in this part of Michigan known for its beauty and natural resources.

We released our first children’s book in 1998, The Legend of Sleeping Bear, and were honored when it was made the official children’s book of Michigan later that year. Based on the strong response to this title we decided to move forward with additional titles focused on our The People Behind region, and followed up with the Books The Legend of Mackinac Island We are very fortunate to have and M is for Mitten: A Michigan a dedicated team at Sleeping Alphabet Book in 1999. Bear Press! We have a talented design team led by our creative How Sleeping Bear director Jennifer Bacheller. JenPress Got Its Name nifer and her team have worked Sleeping Bear Press is named with over 150 illustrators main48


taining the delicate balance between words and art. They have created a winning look for Sleeping Bear Press, have built a reputation for being easy to work with, and leave our many illustrators wanting more! Senior editor Barb McNally came to SBP after working at Borders for more than 10 years and brought a wealth of experience in the world of publishing. She is passionate about children’s literature and brimming with ideas. Senior editor Amy Lennex is a very talented editor who really understands the importance of the author/editor relationship and has great

vision for each project. Publicity is key to the success of each title. We have a very experienced publicist in Audrey Mitnick. Audrey looks for unique and out of the box connections and partners in order to create awareness for each new title.

books to check out

Awards and Recognitions

Although our press is small, our books have won over 300 state and national honors and awards from literary and educational organizations, including the American Library Association, National Association for Humane and Environmental Education, International Reading Association, ASPCA® Henry Bergh Children’s Book Awards, and National Arbor Day Foundation.

Upcoming Middle Grade Releases

Our middle grade fans are anxiously awaiting the final book in the I,Q Series, I, Q: Alcatraz by Roland Smith and Michael P. Spradlin. We are also thrilled to be releasing the second middle grade novel by Sandra Dallas. Known for her best-selling adult novels, Sandra brings her love of history and interest in women’s issues to a new and younger audience, first in The Quilt Walk (published by SBP in 2012), and this fall in Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky.

I, Q: Alcatraz by Roland Smith & Michael P. Spradlin ages 10–13


, Q is an edge-of-yourseat spy/mystery series that immerses readers in the work of U.S. Secret Service, the Mossad, and the MI5. Book Six answers all: Who is Number One? Will Q and Angela be sent to boarding school? How does Boone “blink” away? Will Angela be reunited with her Mom? The book will release this fall and readers are begging for more! (

Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas ages 8-12


t’s 1942: Tomi Itano, 12, is a second-generation Japanese American who lives in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Although her parents came from Japan and her grandparents still live there, Tomi considers herself an American. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, things change. Sandra Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this story of a young Japanese American girl caught up in the prejudices and World War II.



of the book blogs

Sam Silver: Undercover Pirate Book 4—The Deadly Trap by Jan Burchett & Sara Vogler Trafalgar Square Publishing Review by


Ages 7-9


am Silver might look like an ordinary boy, but he has an exciting secret—one of his distant ancestors was a pirate. Now, whenever he rubs the magic gold coin the ancestor left behind, Sam is magically transported back to 1706 aboard the pirate ship Sea Wolf. On board ship, he’s part of the regular crew, and his two best friends cover for his frequent absences—Charlie, a girl disguised as a boy to escape her wicked stepfather, and Fernando, a boy of Afro-Caribbean heritage. In The Deadly Trap, Sam discovers that there is a traitor on board their ship,

the Sea Wolf. He’s able to figure out who the culprit is—but the rest of the crew thinks that Sam is making a false accusation to cover up his own guilt. Can Sam prove his innocence before it’s too late??? I give this series kudos for including diversity of both ethnicity and gender in the supporting cast. This is a strong early chapter book series for pirate-lovers. The books are a little longer than most early chapter books, but still with plenty of illustrations. It’s a solid choice for third graders, with lots of appeal for older and younger kids around that age as well.


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





Three Strikes You're Dead by Josh Berk Random House Children's Books Review by



trike Three You’re Dead is the first middle grade book that I was able to read all the way through after two trips to the library. Not one, but TWO. TWO! The cover and the cover synopsis really captured my attention, so I checked it out, took it home, and started to read it. And I liked it! Lenny Norbeck is a wannabe announcer and a diehard Phillies fan. When he wins the chance to announce an inning of Philly baseball, he jumps at the chance— but never dreams that he’ll witness a murder! With his two best friends (Mike and Other Mike) and a bilingual girl who’s just as crazy for

Ages 9-12 the Phillies as he is, Lenny embarks on an extraordinary adventure that takes readers through the crazies of baseball history. The plot is really where this book shined. Although it was somewhat predictable, Berk weaves baseball quirks, common coincidence, and hilarity in a way that’s straightforward but fun. It’s not plausible that so many coincidences happened at the same time; but then, it’s middle grade fiction. Overall, this was a light and easy read, with plenty of humor and freshness. If you’re a baseball fan (or not a baseball fan) looking for a book to pass the time, this is a good one.




SHOWOFF UP by sixteen

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.

Ages 9-12

with six seconds showing, JB smiles, Then STRUTS side steps stutters Spins, and S I N K S a sick SLICK SLIDING SWeeeeeeeeeeT SEVEN-foot shot. What a showoff.



AFTER WE WIN I see the pink Reeboks-wearing girl shooting baskets on the other court. She plays ball, too? JB walks over to her and I can tell he likes her because when she goes in for a lay-up, he doesn’t slap the ball silly like he tries to do with me. He just stands there looking silly, smiling on the other court at the pink Reeboks-wearing girl.

Poems from The Crossover. Š 2014 by Kwame Alexander. Used with permission Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 53


There wasn’t a birthday candle in sight, but Mitsi made a wish anyway. —from Dash by Kirby Larson



EST. 1972


july/august 2014

contributors ALEXANDER, KWAME Kwame Alexander is the Founding Director of Bookin-a-Day, a program that teaches and empowers teenagers to write and publish their own books. His seventeen published books are among his many accomplishments. ANDERS, LOU Lou Anders is the Hugo award-winning editorial director of Pyr Books and the WFC award-nominated editor of many critically-acclaimed anthologies. Frostborn: Thrones and Bones is his first published book for children. APPLEGATE, KATHERINE Katherine has written many books for children, including the Animorphs series (co-authored with Michael Grant), Roscoe Riley Rules, and The Buffalo Storm. In 2013, she won the Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan. BERK, JOSH Josh is the author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin and Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children, and is a children’s services librarian at the Allentown Public Library. BIGGS, BRIAN After a few years as a graphic designer, Brian Biggs realized that he could draw pictures as a “job” and began doing so with gusto. He drew comic books and illustrations for magazines and eventually began drawing children’s books. BOWEN, FRED Known for his books about sports, Bowen spent many years as a lawyer before retiring to become a children’s book author. He plays many sports, but his favorite to watch is baseball, and his favorite to play is golf.

cool reads for cool kids.

BROOM, JENNY Jenny studied painting at the Slade School of Art before becoming a writer and editor. She lives in London. BURCHETT, JAN Jan Burchett has co-authored more than 150 stories with friend, Sara Volger, ranging from educational books and stories for younger readers to young adult fiction. They have written for series such as Dinosaur Cove and Beast Quest, and they are authors of the Gargoylz books. CASTLE, M.E. Castle is a writer and actor working in the glorious center of the universe, New York City. He is the writer of several short stories, the noir detective radio drama The Dead Hear Footsteps, and the Popular Clone series. CLIFTON, LUTRICIA Lutricia Clifton’s debut novel, Freaky Fast Frankie Joe, was an IRA Children’s Choice Book and a Texas Bluebonnet Award 2013-2014 Master List title. She lives in Illinois. DAHLSTROM, S. J. Dahlstrom is a writer in West Texas and an author of fiction for young readers, including his series The Adventures of Wilder Good. He has numerous magazine credits for his writing and photography. FRIEND, ALISON Alison is the illustrator of the first two Bramble and Maggie stories and several other children’s books, including Scrawny Cat by Phyllis Root and What Color Is Caesar? by Maxine Kumin. She lives in England. GHENT, NATALE Natalie is an award-winning young adult author of many books, including No Small Thing, All The Way Home, Gravity Brings Me Down and The Odds Get

july/august 2014

contributors Even. Her work has been critically acclaimed, gathering awards and recognition internationally.

a book blogger since 2004. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

GORDON, AMY After graduating with a B.A. in Language Arts and Literature from Bard College, Gordon found a career in teaching and spent many years as a camp counselor. She now teaches seventh grade English and is the author of many wonderful books for young readers.

LAMANA, JULIE T. In 1995, Julie and her husband packed up their six children, two dogs and neurotic cat, and left their home in the Rocky Mountains and relocated to Louisiana. Now retired, she spends most of her time at her writing desk. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere is her first novel.

HAPKA, CATHERINE Hapka, a lifelong horse enthusiast, has written many books for young readers, including some in the Saddle Club, the Horse Diaries, and the A Circuit Novel series (with Georgina Bloomberg). She keeps three horses at her small farm in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. HAAS, JESSIE Jessie Haas has written more than thirty books, most of them about horses, including the first two books about Bramble and Maggie. Jessie Haas lives in Vermont with her husband, writer Michael J. Daley; her horse; two cats; a dog; and a hen.

LARSON, KIRBY Larson is the author of many books for young readers including Hattie Big Sky, which received the Newbery Honor in 2007. When she’s not reading, writing, or walking her dog, Kirby enjoys gardening, bird watching, traveling, or drinking lattés with friends. MITNICK, AUDREY Audrey Mitnick is the Senior Publicist for Sleeping Bear Press, which launched in 1994 as a publisher of regional titles and began publishing children’s books exclusively in 1998.

IVANOFF, GEORGE Stay-at-home dad and Australia native, Ivanoff has written over 70 books for children and teens. His science fiction novel, Gamers’ Quest, won a 2010 Chronos Award for speculative fiction. His latest series of books, the interactive You Choose series, hit the shelves in May 2014.

PELLETIER, CATHIE Two of Pelletier’s ten novels received notable mentions from the New York Times Book Review. She also won the New England Booksellers Award and the 2006 Paterson Prize for Fiction. She was also presented with the Bernie Schweid Award from Tennessee Booksellers.

KERR PHILIP Kerr is the author of more than forty books for adults and children, including the historical thriller Bernie Gunther series and The Children of the Lamp series under the name P.B. Kerr.

PETRUCK, REBECCA A former member of 4-H, Petruck was also a Girl Scout, a cheerleader, and competed in MathCounts. She reads National Geographic cover to cover. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction, from UNC Wilmington.

KRAMP, KATY Katy Kramp is a graduate of Valparaiso University and the University of Michigan School of Information. She has been a public librarian since 2002, and

RCUBED Rcubed is a teen blogger with a passion for analyzing books, movies, and music. When not going cross-eyed at her computer, she can be found eating

cool reads for cool kids.

july/august 2014

contributors chocolate, listening to Andy Mineo, or indulging in her greatest weakness—Disney Channel. ROLLI Rolli is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist hailing from Canada. He’s the author of two short story collections, a book of poems, and the middle grade catstravaganza Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat. His cartoons appear regularly in Reader’s Digest and Harvard Business Review. SAIGN, GEOFFREY Saign is the author of Green Essentials: What You Need to Know About the Environment, African Cats and Great Apes. He won the Shabo Award in 2010. WhipEye is his first children’s novel. SCIESZKA, JON Author of many beloved books for children, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and Squids Will Be Squids, Jon started out as a 1st grade Assistant teacher and later taught many other grades as well. Jon is now working on a giant preschool publishing program called Trucktown. SCOTT, KATIE Katie Scott studied illustration at Brighton University and has since worked with the BBC, the New York Times, Universal Records, and Phaidon Press. She lives and works in London. SCHWARTZ, JORDAN Award-winning LEGO builder, Schwartz was one of the LEGO Group’s youngest designers. While working as part of their Creator/Creator Expert team, he developed models for a number of official sets. His original models have been featured in several books, including Beautiful LEGO and A Million Little Bricks. ST. ANTOINE, SARA Sara was eight years old when she first paddled a canoe on the Huron River. Within moments, she struck an

cool reads for cool kids.

overhanging tree branch and the canoe capsized. Since then, she has paddled lakes and rivers from Temagami, Ontario to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. SULLIVAN, JAQUELINE LEVERING Sullivan is a retired professor of writing who founded and directed the Writing Center at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Annie’s War, her first published novel, was based on events from her childhood. UNSWORTH, TANIA Unsworth, the daughter of the late Barry Unsworth, spent her childhood in Cambridge, UK. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. One Safe Place is her first book for young readers. VOLGER, SARA Having co-authored more than 150 books with long time friend, Jan Burchett, Sara has always loved reading and writing stories. She lives in London with her family and Monster, her cat. WEISSMAN, ELISA BRENT Weissman is the author of The Short Seller, Nerd Camp, Nerd Camp 2.0, and Standing for Socks as well as The Trouble with Mark Hopper. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland. WILSON, N.D. N. D. Wilson is the best-selling author of the 100 Cupboards trilogy and the acclaimed Ashtown Burials series. His first work of nonfiction was the groundbreaking Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, which was adapted into the “bookumentary” film of the same name. 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 to subscribe.


FOR KIDS IN NEED Nothing makes you smarter than reading. But to become a strong reader, you need books. And many kids from low-income families don’t have books of their own at home. First Book is a nonprofit that makes sure all kids have books of their own. Find out how YOU can get involved at

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids July/August 2014  

Find your next favorite middle-grade book in Middle Shelf. In this issue: Katherine Applegate, Kirby Larson, Brian Biggs, and more.

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