LOUIS SACHAR MATTHEW J. KIRBY CINDY CALLAGHAN Adventure Books Brandon Mull’s Crystal Keepers Inside Chronicle Books
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july/august 2015 contents
a word from the editor
themed books: awesome adventures
common core pick
cool reads for cool kids
jem & laraâ€™s reviews
on our shelf
louis sachar interview with newbery award winning author of Holes and Fuzzy Mud
40 novelty 41
matthew j. kirby interview with the author of Icefall and The Arctic Code
cindy callaghan interview with the author of Lost in Rome and Lost in Paris
best of the book blogs
under the covers with annabelle metayer, illustrator of Lost in Rome
character spotlight an interview with Aoleon the Martian Girl
On the cover: Illustration by Annabelle Metayer from Lost in Rome by Cindy Callaghan
Images from The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby and Space Jackers by Huw Powell
a word from the
ummer is the perfect time for new adventures! I grew up in a rural community in the mountains of Southern California. My neighborhood was surrounded on all sides by cow pastures and endless miles of forest. I spent my summers climbing trees, harvesting pine nuts, and exploring. I also spent a lot of time reading, and I suspect all those books I read as a kid are what sparked many of my imaginative exploits through the woods near my home. Of course, I never discovered any bio hazardous mud like Tamaya and Marshall do in Louis Sachar’s newest book, Fuzzy Mud. Nor did I ever have the pleasure of journeying to the Arctic, like Eleanor in The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby. In this month’s issue of Middle Shelf, not only will you be able to experience these adventures, but you’ll also travel to Rome with author Cindy Callaghan, to Montreal with artist Annabelle Metayer, and even to Mars with Aoleon the Martian Girl and outer space with Huw Powell’s Space Pirates! And if that isn’t exciting enough, we have a whole collection of adventure stories just waiting to be discovered. In addition, our reviewers share their thoughts on Brandon Mull’s newest Five Kingdoms book and Liesl Shurtliff’s Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk. And be sure to check out our top picks for poetry, non-fiction, and graphic novel. No matter where your adventures lead this summer, you can always count on Middle Shelf Magazine to fuel your imagination and keep you deep in books. Laurisa White Reyes Editor in Chief, Middle Shelf Magazine
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Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
Louis Sachar Be careful. Your next step may be your last. Tamaya Dhilwaddi and Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad HilligasÂ challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour,Â reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined. Louis Sachar, author of the Newbery Award-winning book Holes, talks to Middle Shelf about the environment, wishes, and his newest book, Fuzzy Mud. 6
Random House www.louissachar.com https://youtu.be/Xm7VReM9WO0
Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Mr. Sachar. It is an honor to have you as our guest. To start with, what are ergonyms, and are they dangerous? Louis Sachar: Ergonyms, or “ergies” are a new kind of life-form, genetically engineered by SunRay Farm for the purpose of making Biolene—an alternative to gasoline, which is cheaper and supposedly non-polluting. They are perfectly safe, since they will die if exposed to oxygen. So they can’t mix with the natural environment. The only danger is that an ergonym might mutate and become oxygen-tolerant. Then it would be extremely dangerous and could possibly destroy every living thing on Earth, with the pos- discusses “virtue” and what it means to sible exception of turtles. be “virtuous.” Hopefully some readers will consider the philosophical question as to MS: Where did you get the idea for what it means to live a virtuous life, and Fuzzy Mud? is it something worth striving for. Mostly, Sachar: As with all my books, it wasn’t however, I just hope they enjoy a scary, a single idea, but the coming together of exciting story. lots of ideas. I wanted to try my hand at a scary story. The main character is, in MS: Name three of your favorite kids’ some ways, based on my daughter. And books of all time. What about these I’ve always been very concerned about books has stuck with you the most? protecting the environment. Sachar: Charlotte’s Web, Horton Lays an Egg, The Secret Garden. With the first MS: Fuzzy Mud tackles several themes, two, I’d say it’s their gentle humor and such as the environment, government, humanity. I’ve enjoyed everything ever science, and bullying. What ideas do written by E.B. White and Dr. Suess. The you hope readers will take away from Secret Garden is a more serious book this story? than the other two, and I appreciate the Sachar: I hope readers will consider the respect the author has for her main charimpact of over-population on the environ- acter and for her readers. ment. I also hope they discover the joy of science. I’ve come to learn that science MS: Which of the characters you’ve crecan be truly fascinating, more fascinating ated is most like you, and in what way? even than science fiction. The book also Sachar: All my characters include a piece 7
of me. When I was growing up, in some ways I was like Gary Boone (Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes), always trying to make people laugh and often making a fool of myself. Alton, in The Cardturner could have been me when I was in high school, and his great uncle, Trapp, is a lot like I am now. But probably the person most like me is “Louis, the Yard Teacher” from the Wayside School books. When I was 22 years old, I helped out in an elementary school. I supervised the kids during recess, and that was what they called me. The characters in the Wayside Books are all based on the kids and teachers I knew there, including me.
and which ones went into a box. Then there were more and more boxes. For a long time, I struggled to make a living as a writer, and I might have given up, if not for the fan mail which kept me going. MS: If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? Sachar: #1—There’s a major bridge event every summer where the best players from all around the world compete in a team event called the Spingold. My wish isn’t to win it—that I would have to earn on my own—but just to get a chance to compete in that event on a good team.
#2—I haven’t started a new book since Fuzzy Mud, so my second wish is to find MS: Describe your typical day. Sachar: I jog three miles first thing in the my next idea. I never know what’s going morning. Then shower and eat breakfast to happen in a book when I start it. I and write for two hours, alone in my office have to learn and discover things as I go in my house. Then I’ll go to the bridge along, so whatever that idea is, it has to club, and play cards for three hours (like be something that will intrigue me, and Trapp in The Cardturner). After dinner my stimulate my curiosity and imagination. dog will take me for a walk. #3—I know it is too much to wish for MS: As a writer, what has been the big- world peace or a clean environment, but I do hope people will try to be more civil gest surprise of your career? Sachar: Fan mail. When I was growing and understanding of each other, and I up, it never occurred to me to write a let- hope that everyone will take a little more ter to an author. But after my first book care of the small planet we all share. was published, I started getting fan mail. I was so thrilled, I hung it up on my wall. MS: What three wishes would you After a while, I had too many letters and grant, if you could? had to do decide which ones stayed up Sachar: What do you want?
Hopefully some readers will consider the philosophical question as to what it means to live a virtuous life, and is it something worth striving for. Mostly, however, I just hope they enjoy a scary, exciting story. 8
“A wild and zany camping adventure that will leave you begging for more.” —Dorine White, author of The Awakening & Cleopatra’s Legacy series
A hilarious not-your-typical ghost story. The perfect summer read! www.skyrocketpress.com 9
Matthew J. Kirby From award-winning author of Icefall and The Lost Kingdom comes an adventure series set in the future where Earth is trapped in a new ice age. Middle Shelf: You’ve said The Arctic Code is new territory for you. How so? Matthew J. Kirby: Until now, my stories have taken place within historical contexts, like ancient Norway in Icefall and Colonial America in The Lost Kingdom. For my previous books, even though they all had some fantasy element, I felt accountable in some way to the historical record. For The Arctic Code, I’m going into the future where there is no record. I’m making it up, so the accountability has shifted from what happened to what could plausibly happen. 10
The Dark Gravity Sequence: The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby HarperCollins www.matthewjkirby.com
MS: What is the Freeze? Kirby: The Freeze is a new ice age that has arrived off-schedule. So the world of The Arctic Code has glaciers covering much of the northern hemisphere, similar to the last glacial period that ended about twelve thousand years ago. This, of course, has enormous consequences for the earth’s population. Whole countries have been rendered uninhabitable. Refugees are pouring south from the U.S. and Europe toward the equator, and former international super-powers have found the economy of the world overturned. One of the mysteries of the novel is why the earth’s orbit has shifted, so I’m not going to spoil that here. you’d like to visit but haven’t yet? Kirby: Oh, I love to travel. Absolutely love MS: Tell us about Eleanor. Was she in- it. So the list of places I haven’t been but spired by anyone you know? would like to go is quite long. The place Kirby: No, not directly inspired by anyone that has been hovering at the top of the I know. My characters rarely are, with one list for quite a while now is Norway. Ever or two exceptions. Eleanor is a character since writing Icefall, I’ve wanted to go whose mother goes missing doing some there, and I have this sense that when I research in the arctic, and Eleanor goes to do, Solveig might start to tell me more of find her. So her character really emerged her story. I know her tale isn’t finished. from a single question: what kind of kid stows away on a plane headed for the MS: Can you give us a sneak peek to most dangerous place on the planet? In The Arctic Code’s sequel? answering that question, I discovered Kirby: Well, I can’t say much without a person who is incredibly brave, a bit spoiling the first book, to say nothing of reckless and impulsive, and loyal. I kind the second. But Eleanor’s journey in the of loved her instantly. I can be pretty im- second takes her far from the arctic, to pulsive, myself, and over the years that Peru and Egypt. You get to see a bit more has gotten me into trouble, like the time I of the world and come to better understood up mid-recital and announced that stand the nature of the threat to the earth’s I quit piano lessons. survival. Eleanor also goes through some pretty difficult emotional decisions, and MS: Eleanor’s adventures take her all it’s been exciting to watch her character the way to the Arctic. Is there any place grow. Photography: Naomi Leu
Lost in Rome by Cindy Callaghan
Cindy Callaghan When Lucy heads to Rome for the summer, she’s in for pizza, pasta, and a little amore in this M!X novel from the author of Lost in London. Middle Shelf: What inspired you to set a story in Rome? Cindy Callaghan: Honestly, the food! There is so much attractive about Rome. I’m especially interested in the history, but it really was the food that lured me to that setting. MS: Have you ever visited Rome? Callaghan: I am going to Rome next month! I can’t wait. One of the first things I do when I get to a foreign city is an open-air bus tour. I think that gives a really good overview of the sights. Then, I pick where I want to get off and 12
spend time. But I definitely want to see the Colosseum, and I want to find a quiet little alleyway and a quaint pizza shop. Middle Shelf: Another of your books, Lost in Paris, is set in Paris! Have you ever been there? Cindy Callaghan: I have! While I was working on the book I went with my 16-year-old daughter. We visited all the sites from the book and spent a fun four days together. MS: You studied French in college. Do you speak the language? Callaghan: I studied French for many years, but speaking has always been tough for me. I still sort of translate in my head, and it slows me down. I am much better at reading and writing. I often download podcasts in French to refresh my memory. MS: Your first book, Just Add Magic, will soon be a TV show. Tell us about that. Callaghan: Just Add Magic the book came out in 2010. Then in 2013, Amazon Studios optioned it for a pilot episode for TV. It received great viewer feedback, so it was green lit for twelve more episodes. I’m still pinching myself. MS: What do you do when you’re not writing? Callaghan: I have a family and pets—all rescues...the pets, not the family. I like to run, read, and go to the movies. And I spend a lot of time with my kids. MS: Do your kids read your books? How do they like having a mom as a writer? Callaghan: My kids love reading at dif-
ferent levels, and they all help me with my books. I often ask for help with dialogue, or I write myself into plot corners and they help me get out! It’s really a family affair. MS: If you could visit any place in the world you’ve never been, where would you go? Callaghan: There is so much right here in the United States that I haven’t seen. I think I would want to spend a summer near the Great Lakes. If I was to go outside the U.S., I think I would want to visit quiet little towns and wineries in France and Italy. MS: Your books have so far been set in Rome, London, Ireland, and France. Where to next? Callaghan: I’m a bit like Meghan McGlinchey, my character in Lucky Me, in that I’m a bit superstitious, so I don’t want to jinx anything by speaking too soon. I can tell you there is another adventure on the horizon, but my lips are sealed as to where! 13
The Runaway’s Gold
by Peter Jay Black
by Emilie Christie Burack
Amulet Books Bloomsbury USA urbanoutlawsbunker.com/author www.emiliechristieburack.com
eep beneath the city live five extraordinary kids: world-famous hacker Jack, gadget geek Charlie, free runner Slink, communications chief Obi, and decoy expert Wren. Orphans bonded over their shared sense of justice, the kids have formed the Urban Outlaws, a group dedicated to outsmarting criminals and handing out their stolen money through Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K.s). But the kids find themselves in serious trouble when they’re caught in an epic battle to control Proteus, a genius super-computer. Proteus can crack any code in the world and steal top-secret documents in nanoseconds. It’s down to the Urban Outlaws to use their guile, guts, and skill to destroy the computer, avert world domination...and stay alive.
n 1842, Christopher Robertson’s family lives a difficult life as “crofters,” farmers and fishermen so in debt to the landowner that they have no hope of ever breaking free. To make matters worse, Christopher also lives under the thumb of his morally questionable father and devious brother. When his brother frames him for the theft of their father’s secret bag of coins, Christopher must leave his home and embark on a journey across the island to return the coins and clear his name. It’s a journey that takes twists and turns, including stops in prison, on a smuggler’s ship, and at the house of a beautiful girl—and it ends with him escaping to a new life in America, which has dangers of its own.
AWESOME ADVENTURES Wilder Boys by Brandon Wallace Aladdin www.simonandschuster.com/ series/Wilder-Boys
hirteen-year-old Jake spends most of his time reading. He pours over his father’s journal, which is full of wilderness facts and survival tips. Eleven-yearold Taylor likes to be outside playing with their dog, Cody, or joking around with the other kids in the neighborhood. But one night everything changes. The boys discover a dangerous secret that Bull is hiding. And the next day, they come home from school to find their mother unconscious in an ambulance. Knowing they are no longer safe and with nowhere else to go, the Wilder Boys head off in search of their father. They only have his old letters and journal to help them, but they have to make it. It’s a long journey from the suburbs of Pittsburgh to the wilderness of Wyoming; can the Wilder Boys find their father before Bull catches up with them?
The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt Penguin Young Readers Group www.mabbitt.co.uk
ave you ever picked your nose? Have you ever picked your nose and EATEN IT? Have you ever picked your nose, eaten it, and, by doing so, opened a portal to a world run by PIRATES? Mabel Jones has. Kidnapped, Mabel is forced to serve aboard The Feroshus Maggot with the strangest crew you’ll ever meet. And the captain—an odious wolf named Idryss Ebenezer Split— won’t let her go until she helps the pirates unlock the treasure they seek. Mabel’s voyage takes her across the Greasy Pole of Certain Death, into the belly of a whale, and underground to a decrepit crypt. And she does it all…in pajamas! Read on if you dare. You are promised a most unlikely adventure.
The Shark Rider by Ellen Prager Mighty Media www.earth2ocean.net
fter thwarting the dastardly plans of J.P. Rickerton, Tristan Hunt is having trouble keeping his newfound talents a secret. And if undercover spies and a mysterious illness threatening to expose the secrets of camp weren’t enough, reports of dying fish and disappearing sponge in the Caribbean call Tristan and his friends back into action. Will the Sea Guardians discover the source of the problem before time runs out? Can they escape the threat of an oncoming storm? Or will a betrayal from one of their own ensure it’s already too late?
The Buccaneers’ Code (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, #3) by Caroline Carson
ilary Westfield is now a freelance pirate. After trying to prove herself to the VNHLP, she realized many members of the League weren’t all that honorable—not even very nearly. With Captain Blacktooth in cahoots with the Mutineers, the kingdom of Augusta and all its magic are at risk. What the League needs is a very honorable pirate to be their new president. So Hilary—with the help of her friends, including the always spirited gargoyle—challenges Blacktooth to a High Seas battle. Winner takes all. Loser, at best, will be exiled. Caroline Carlson has created a world where magic is currency, pirates are more charming than alarming, and a girl can choose a life as a pirate instead of a life in petticoats.
AWESOME ADVENTURES The Copernicus Legacy: The Golden Vendetta
Wanderville: Escape to the World’s Fair
by Tony Abbott
by Wendy McClure
Penguin Young Readers www.wendymcclure.net
illed with pulse-pounding action and cryptic codes, The Golden Vendetta is the third engrossing book in bestselling author Tony Abbott’s cloak-and-dagger series for young readers. It’s been two months since the Kaplan family hunted down the Serpens relic, but when the evil Galina Krause suddenly and violently reappears, Wade, Darrell, Lily, and Becca have no choice but to face her again. Now they must race to find an artifact said to be crafted by Leonardo da Vinci himself—perhaps the strangest Guardian of all. Along the way, they uncover another layer to Galina’s sinister endgame . . . and there might not be enough time to stop it. Fans of Rick Riordan and Ridley Pearson will love this adventurous series.
he orphans of Wanderville have decided to never again let themselves be confused by adults offering them shiny red apples and warm beds. They’re going to make their way to California and establish a more permanent spot for Wanderville. But when they’re suddenly left without means of transportation, the orphans must find a new way of getting to their “town.” Enter a dandy motorist with a proposition: If the orphans agree to take a mysterious artifact to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair on his behalf, they will receive a handsome reward that will allow them to book passage west.
CREATE YOUR OWN VIDEO GAME! Middle Shelf’s Common Core Pick
Science Engineering & Technology Math STEM - STEAM
Video Games: Design and Code Your Own Adventure by Kathy Ceceri Nomad Press www.craftsforlearning.com
atch a glimpse inside a school bus and you’ll see lots of kids looking down. What are they doing? They’re deciding on strategy, building cities, setting traps for monsters, sharing resources, and nurturing critical relationships. Over 90 percent of kids ages 2–17 play video games. In Video Games: Design and Code Your Own Adventure, young readers learn why games are so compelling and what ancient games such as mancala have in common with modern games like Minecraft. Kids will even create their very own video games using software such as MIT’s Scratch! Using a familiar, high-interest subject, Video Games introduces foundation subjects such as geometry, physics, probability, and psychology in a practical framework. Building Tetris pieces out of Rice Crispie Treats and designing board games are some of the hands-on projects that engage readers’ building skills, while writing actual game code opens digital doors readers may not have known existed.
ds! h Frien t i w t ec Conn eviews! R e r a Sh
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COOL READS FOR
KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.
Ages 8-12 Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty Disney-Hyperion | www.robert-beatty.com
he couldn’t even breathe, let alone fight. Help her! Serafina’s mind screamed at her. Help her! Attack the rat! Attack the rat! Serafina finally plucked up her courage and charged forward, but just at that moment, the man’s black satin cloak floated upward as if possessed by a smoky spirit. The other girl screamed. The folds of the cloak slithered around her like the tentacles of a hungry serpent. The cloak seemed to move of its own accord, wrapping, twisting, accompanied by a disturbing rattling noise, like the hissing threats of a hundred rattlesnakes. Serafina saw the girl’s horrified face looking at her from within the folds of the enveloping cloak, the girl’s pleading blue eyes wide with fear. Help me! Help me! Then the folds closed over her, the scream went silent, and the girl disappeared. Serafina gasped in shock. One moment the girl was struggling to get free, and the next she vanished into thin air. The cloak had consumed her. Overwhelmed with confusion, grief, and fear, Serafina just stood there in stunned bewilderment. For several seconds, the man seemed to vibrate violently, and a ghoulish aura glowed around him in a dark, shimmering haze. A horribly foul smell of rotting guts invaded Serafina’s nostrils, forcing her head to jerk back. She wrinkled her nose and squinched her mouth and tried not to breathe it in. She must have made some sort of invol-
untary gagging noise for the man in the black cloak suddenly turned and looked at her, seeing her for the first time. It felt like a giant claw gripped her around her chest. The folds of the man’s hood shrouded his face, but she could see that his eyes blazed with an unnatural light. Serafina and the Black Cloak. Copyright © 2015 by Robert Beatty. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21
Ages 8-12 Space Jackers by Huw Powell Bloomsbury USA | www.spacejackers.com
old on, hold on,” he muttered. “I’m coming.” “Open up,” pleaded an unfamiliar voice. The cyber-monks were not used to visitors and they were wary of strangers. Remota was an independent colony with little in the way of law enforcement. There had been recent reports of space pirate raids on the edge of the seventh solar system, not that anyone on Remota had anything worth stealing. Mostly farmers had settled there, growing rare and exotic plants that fed on acid rain. Father Pius reached the door and activated a small video screen. It flickered into life to reveal a lone man standing in the shadows. The cyber-abbot squinted at the display. As far as he could tell, the visitor was neither a farmer nor a dock worker, but he did appear to be clutching something inside his cloak. “Who is it?” asked Father Pius into the videocom. “What do you want?” “Help us,” pleaded the stranger, speaking with an unusual clipped accent that the cyber-abbot did not recognise. “Our ship was destroyed in a space storm and our escape pod landed on your planet. We desperately need shelter and medical attention.” “We?” said Father Pius warily. “I don’t understand. I can only see you. Who else is there?” The man opened his cloak, revealing a
young boy, no more than two years old, wrapped in an orange blanket. The child clung to the man’s chest and shook with each new rumble of thunder. Father Pius unlocked the door and pulled back the thick metal hatches. “Quick, come into the warm,” he said. “Remota is no place for a child at night.” Space Jackers. Copyright © 2015 by Huw Powell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury USA.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 22
Ages 10-14 Huskers by Strat Warden Spark Press | www.gosparkpress.com/portfolio/strat-warden
hen they reached the base of the Hill, Jimmy started to go, but Chuck stopped him with a hand on his shoulder pads. The other boys all stopped too, and they watched. Dennis chugged; his feet never stopped. Up he climbed to the point where the incline steepened. Churning his legs and clutching bushes and clumps of weeds, he leaned into the Hill and scrambled higher. His progress slowed; his effort increased. He grabbed a trunk at the top, and his legs pumped until he had pulled himself up even with the tree. Standing taller than Chuck had ever seen him, hands on his hips, Dennis stared over the football field like a victorious Roman centurion. Jimmy broke the trance. “Now?” Chuck nodded, and Jimmy started up the Hill. The others followed; Chuck was the last to go. When they all had scrambled, scratched, and grunted their way up, each found a place among the trees, around Dennis. Sucking in the cold fall air, they stood together, seeing, as if for the first time, the valley below them. The creek and woods were to their left. The rest of the valley stretched to the right and across the road to the south, past the Davises’ house and garden. The football and practice fields and the woods beyond lay straight ahead. Each of the boys’ raspy exhales burst forth as a puff that was whisked up and away by the crisp
breeze. Surrounded by oaks and maples, their leaves rustling in the wind, the boys gazed out over the valley, which was painted in the yellows, oranges, and reds that filled every Nebraska autumn. There on top of the Hill, like conquerors after a great victory, Chuck and his friends, each in his own world with his own thoughts, were not alone. They had gotten there together, as teammates. Huskers. Copyright © 2015 by Strat Warden. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Spark Press.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23
Ages 10-14 The Warlock’s Child: The Burning Sea by Paul Collins & Sean McMullen Ford Street | www.fordstreetpublishing.com
o dragons like losers?” Dantar wondered. “No, no! It’s to show that no matter how powerful humans might think they are, dragons are way ahead.” “We know that already!” “Nothing to worry about, trust me,” said Marko. The dragon spread its wings and leveled out, then came in low, barely above mast height, cutting across the vanguard of the fleet. Dantar watched as the winged shape grew and grew, heading straight for the Invincible. This is it. I wonder if fish like char-roasted human, Dantar thought as wings wider than most villages drove the huge body toward them. Its mouth opened and fire glowed green deep within its throat. Each tooth was bigger than Dantar was tall, and it had a lot of teeth. Its scales were as bright as polished steel, and enormous eyes saw him yet looked through him. The sharp spines that fringed its face and its head crest were folded back. Dantar had read that dragons did that before attacking. “Steady! Steady!” shouted the marshalat-arms. “Wait for my word . . . Fire at will!” The dragon’s head was squarely in the sighting notch of Dantar’s crossbow as he squeezed the release lever. The air in front
of him went grey with arrows, crossbow bolts and arbalest lances. Fire pots from the ballistas burst in splashes of flame along the dragon’s body, then green flames gushed from between its jaws. This is going to really hurt, thought Dantar. The Burning Sea. Copyright © 2015 by Paul Collins. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Ford Street Publishing.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 24
Ages 10+ Teresa of the New World by Sharman Apt Russell Yucca Press | www.sharmanaptrussell.com
eresa found herself entering the jaguar’s mind more forcefully than she had ever entered the mind of the horse or any other animal. She wanted to know more about the boy, how he shape-shifted and why. She wanted to know what had happened to his mother and father. Her curiosity and fear formed an edge that she used to move deep into the animal’s thoughts. There she felt a whirling and a turning. She was staring out of yellow eyes. She saw the flutter of the cottonwood tree. She saw the shifting shadows along the rock walls. She saw a human girl standing by the pond, a human girl colored in shades of gray, each shade distinct. Even in the dimming sunset, she could see perfectly—the sharp detail of the girl’s stained clothes, her hair coming loose and unbraided, the four tattoos on each cheek. The vertical pupil of her eye widened to take in more light. Teresa knew now what the jaguar knew…. She lifted her nose and opened her mouth and breathed in. Her senses exploded. Now she could smell what the jaguar could smell, intoxicating odors deeper and richer than anything she had experienced before, layers of smell she could read like Fray Tomás had read the words in her father’s book: the wet decay of leaves; the urine of a coyote; the death fear of a mouse; the sweet cloy of the
datura flower opening to attract the night moth; the poison in the flower’s petals and leaves; water and mud and insects and toads; lizards that should be eaten only if necessary; the wind carrying the smell of other animals; the wind itself; and the girl, of course, always the girl. Teresa of the New World. Copyright © 2015 by Sharman Apt Russell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Yucca Press.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 25
Ages 8-12 Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, Katie Kath (illustrator) Random House Children’s Books | www.curiosityjones.net
would worry that you wouldn’t believe me, but I think it used to be yours, so you must know already. Besides, you’re dead. First of all, the little chicken house wasn’t where I left it last night. It’s up on four stumps now, and it’s stuck on tight. I thought Dad moved it (Mom’s working—she hasn’t been outside in days), and that worried me, because I haven’t told them a chicken showed up yet. But then I remembered he’d gone to town right after breakfast. Then I realized the door was shut and latched, and I know I unlatched it and left it open last night. That didn’t make me very happy. I started looking around for Henrietta, and when I came back around the big junk pile, the door was open. I almost started running then. Only dumb kids in movies wait around for evil strangers to pick them off. But what about Henrietta? (That’s what I’m calling her. Hope that’s okay.) I couldn’t leave her behind if there was stranger danger around. There was a noise from in the little house, kind of a thump, and I froze. Henrietta stuck her head out the door and hopped down on the ground, bawking and cackling and having a huge old chicken conversation. I tried to shush her as quietly as I could, and kept my eyes wide open so I could try and grab her if anything moved at all. She walked over to her jam jar and glared at me and bawked some more.
And then I guess she got tired of asking nicely. She got real quiet, so I stared at her. And then she glared at the jam jar—which, I suddenly realized, had tipped over so there was no more water for her to drink— and...Well, I’m just going to say it. The jam jar floated off the ground, sailed over, and landed at my feet. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. Copyright © 2015 by Kelly Jones. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Random House Children’s Books.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 26
One of the most INNOVATIVE and CUTTING-EDGE publishers of books for children and young adults.
Dreaming In Indian
Contemporary Native American Voices A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.
Escape from Tibet A True Story
Two brothers face cruelty, hardship, and hope, on the ultimate journey in search of freedom.
The End of the Line Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland.
To This Day
For the Bullied and the Beautiful An authentic rallying cry for anyone who has been affected by bullying.
JEM recommends Ages 9-12
Jem Burch is 12 years old and in the 6th 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 when he grows up. He also enjoys ping pong, bowling, running, and collecting minerals.
The Loudness by Nick Courage Sky Pony Press | www.nickcourage.com
[Review] The last of the Tragedies have terminated. The construction workers are trying to reharness the dam’s hydraulic energy to power the city. The acting mayor of the Green Zone is querying the City for permission to start building the Charter. Everything is rebuilding itself nicely. Despite all this, Henry Long still feels at a loss. Sure, he is harboring the secret that he has an artificial heart, shielding even his closest friends from it. But still, shouldn’t he feel happy about his hometown’s recent progress? Then, on a trip to collect permits for the Charter, his parents are abducted by the federales who run the City, and he is more alone than ever. It seems like all hope is lost. But even a person without a heart is not truly heartless, right? Can Henry dig deep and save his friends and family from a horrible fate? The Loudness is an excellent novel. It really brought me closer to the characters’ perspectives with detailed descriptions. The author, Nick Courage, is very good at writing tense scenes— slowly revealing hidden information and leaving the reader hanging for more. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed other dystopian novels with unusual premises.
LARA’S reads Ages 10-13
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Penguin Young Readers | www.lisagraff.com
[Review] Middle-schooler Trent is prepared for the worst. He knows that nothing in the world could be worse than 5th grade. The one thing that ruined his 5th grade year was a freak accident that killed a person. The death and freak accident left Trent with horrid thoughts and flashbacks. The worst part is that Trent believes the whole accident was his fault. So, now going to a new middle school, Trent has the power to have a fresh start and to prove his innocence. But this fresh start will be harder than he thought because one mysterious girl with a scar turns his whole world upside down. I LOVED this book. Its tale of friendship will give you a taste of how some friendships turn out. It will leave you crying, laughing, and angry about the events that twist and turn in this book. I personally am not a big fan of friendship books, but this made me change my perspective. Now I love friendship books, thanks to Lisa Graff. This book is amazing with its realistic-fiction twist. I found myself relating to the book, and you will find yourself relating too. It can really change what type of books you read.
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:
with Annabelle Metayer www.annabellem.com
Artist Annabelle Metayer’s images are some of the most iconic in today’s books for tween girls. Her bright and cheerful style is unmistakable. A native of Montreal, Québec, Metayer spent her early career in animation, graphic and web design. But at age 37, she courageously left her day job to become a full-time illustrator. Come with us under the covers into Annabelle Metayer’s world.
Lost In Rome by Cindy Callaghan Aladdin M!X Ages 8-12
Drawing was always one of my favourite things to do ever since I was old enough to pick up crayonsâ€”as well as sketching, daydreaming, reading story books, and other activities involving the right side of the brain. Free time during elementary and high school years was mostly spent entering and sometimes winning various drawing contests which allowed me to participate in all kinds of fun art projects, like large scale murals or special event posters. 31
There is something about the MIX stories that really resonate with the little girl that is still in me! I dearly remember my own tween years: the joy and sometimes awkwardness of growing up, the importance of friendship, the silly adventures, the ridiculous humour. It is also a time of exploration, curiosity and defining your own beliefs and values. The Aladdin Mix stories capture all this so well. Reading the manuscripts and making those covers is pure fun for me: maybe, beyond technique or medium, that emotion of pure joy I am having during the creative process is somehow translated in the final artwork? I sure hope so!
For Lost in Paris the concept was established from the start: Girl sitting at coffee shop table with Paris as backdrop. For Lost in Rome, we knew it involved a pizza restaurant but were not sure of the exact settings, so I sketched a few rough ideas (girl making pizza in restaurant, girl serving pizza outside, etc.) before a final layout was chosen. When the basic cover concept is selected, I usually make one more, tighter black and white sketch for the team to review.
For all of my covers, once I have a basic layout and concept, I am ready to go final. I always start by creating a new computer artboard containing my basic sketch and tons of photos, colour palette ideas, clothing samples, hairstyle examples to get inspired from. This is my virtual mood board. At that point, I really take my time and create each element in detail, forming the whole scene. I spend a lot of time on the character, her expression, her style. I send to the client again. Itâ€™s a back and forth process until we are all happy with the final look. Because I am using a computer software to create my images, it is rather easy to modify any element (color, face shape, hair length, extra elements) at any point. Once the final image is approved, I make sure the file fits the technical specification for the book (size, format, color profile) and I send to the client! They take it from there. 34
When the manuscript is available, I love to read it, absolutely!Â Â But sometimes I receive the mandate early and the manuscript is not finalized or available for consultation at that point. I do not speak directly to the author before or during the process. But sometimes, I do receive a beautiful thank you email from the author once the book is done. What a bonus!
I especially love art that is playful and quirky, with a touch of glamour! Some of my favourite artists are fashion illustrators. My all-time favourites : Jordi Labanda, Izak Zenou, Jeffrey Fulvimari Â (the illustrator for Madonnaâ€™s gorgeous English Roses books!) and Ruben Toledo. Oh! Even Andy Warhol used to be a fashion illustrator! There are so many great artists out there, too many to mention them all.
I illustrated many book covers for the Quebec marketâ€”my home province, which has a primarily French-speaking population with its own individual industry. I am also very proud to be the cover illustrator of a new line of books for tweens at HarperCollins. The series is called Twintuition and is from actresses Tia and Tamera Mowry. The first book of the series is out this month. 37
on our shelf
Promise by Judy Young
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasely
Sleeping Bear Press
Penguin Young Readers
aden’s father has been in prison for almost as long as he can remember, but now that his dad is coming home, Kaden isn’t so sure he wants to see him. I honestly have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every page of Promise. From the opening pages, I hoped Kaden would have a happy ending, but I discovered that not all stories do have happy endings. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want them to, but despite disappointments, there is always hope for something better. Judy Young does a fantastic job with Kaden and all the friends and family in his life. I kept turning pages because I was so curious to find out what would happen next. If you want a heartwarming read that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page, Promise is the book for you.
icah grew up hearing his grandfather’s stories about a magical circus he visited as a child. A genius elephant, a woman who could fly like a bird, and a man who could bend light and send children to faraway places…every bit of it, Micah learns as his grandfather is on his deathbed, is real. In doing all he can to fulfill Grandpa Ephraim’s mysterious dying wish, Micah and his friend Jenny visit the enchanted circus as they attempt to find the Lightbender and at last bring him back into Ephraim’s life. Lovers of magic will devour Cassie Beasley’s imaginative tale, finding their belief in miracles is stronger than ever.
The Ire of Iron Claw: Gadgets and Gears, Book 2 by Kersten Hamilton, James Hamilton (Illustrator)
Crystal Keepers: Five Kingdoms, Book 3 by Brandon Mull
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ally Kennewickett and his dachshund, Noodles, have quite the feat before them to maintain their hero status. To avoid falling prey to the vengeance-seeking Madini and his evil pigeon Iron Claw, Wally and Noodles journey across the Atlantic with their family of scientists. Dodging pirates and crossing the Alps in a giant mechanical spider might not be the conventional way of saving the world, but with science on their side, they’re sure to persist. Peppered with historical facts about Victorian Era technology and featuring influential engineers like Nikola Tesla and Wilbur Wright, The Ire of Iron Claw is sure to appeal to budding scientists and historians alike!
n Zeropolis, we meet robots and software that have the potential to rule the world. Mull takes a peak into the idea of a massive AI becoming self-aware and what problems this would cause. The people are ruled by technology, using energy crystals to support their way of life. A doomsday dragon is brought into existence, and only through sacrifice can it be destroyed. Cole has his work cut out for him as he learns to wear battle armor, fly on hover boards, and control robots by placing his own intelligence in their brain networks. Crystal Keepers is a worthy sequel in the Five Kingdom series, a series that doesn’t get boring because each book is filled with new shaping magic and new lands to discover. 39
rom the creators of Junior Library Guild Selection I Didn’t Do My Homework Because... and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School... comes a laugh-out-loud doodle book inspired by the not-so-true stories that ensue when an assignment is left undone. Silly, absurd, and outrageous excuse-themed art prompts are the springboard for this fun-filled, action-packed doodle extravaganza. Fill in original comics, complete wacky word tales, and use seriously cool sticker sheets for hours of excuse-generating amusement!
I Didn’t Do My Homework Because… Doodle Book of Excuses by Davide Cali, Benjamin Chaud (illustrator) www.davidecali.com Chronicle 40
The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 1944-1945 by Wayne Vansant Zenith Press www.zenithpress.com
ought in the winter of 1944-1945, the coldest season in over 100 years, the Battle of the Bulge still ranks as the single largest battle ever fought by the United States Army. This is a story of panic, fear, and physical misery; a story of how a generation of draftees, National Guardsmen, and a small core of regular officers and NCOs faced those three elements as snow piled around their foxholes and the incessant drumming of artillery splintered the woods that gave them shelter. Above all, The Battle of the Bulge is a story of incredible triumph, now beautifully illustrated in graphic novel format for the first time.
nonfiction Ages 9-14
Watch Out for Flying Kids! by Cynthia Levinson www.cynthialevinson.com Peachtree Publishers
he author of We’ve Got a Job explores the world of social circus—a movement that brings kids from different worlds together to perform remarkable acts on a professional level. Levinson follows the participants of two specific circuses that also work together periodically: Circus Harmony in St. Louis, whose participants are inner-city and suburban kids, and Circus Galilee in Israel, whose participants are Jews and Arabs. As the kids’ relationships evolve over time, the members learn how to overcome assumptions, animosity, and obstacles both physical and personal.
BOOK SHELF Rungle in the Jungle by Robert Logan Rogers Illustrated by Rachel McCoy
his is the story of an extraordinary victorious race set in the imagination of a child’s joyful world. Come join Josh the jaguar, Tim the Tiger, and Jessica the giraffe for their adventure. An overcoming story set in a fun rhyming style where positive thinking overcomes negative fear. Ideal for 5 to 8 year old’s.
www.rungleinthejunglethebook.com Available at Amazon and Createspace. Crispin Scales and the Golden Pearl by Ruby Blessing
stolen princess and a rebellious witch. Dragons, fairies, gnomes and vampires. Daemons, harpies and even a few zombies. An evil, though disturbingly handsome king. And a young dragon chosen to save the world—a shame he’s not very good at it. With a jawdropping twist, Crispin Scales is the children’s series we’ve all been craving. www.crispinscales.com Available at Amazon and iTunes.
Blast Off! With Gabby and Maddox by Steve Altier
routine trip to the Space Station takes a wrong turn when their ship loses power. Gabby and Maddox find themselves drifting deep into outer space. A purple alien named Spark rescues them and takes them to his planet. The Children quickly learn not everything is what it appears. Will Spark keep his promise and help the children return home? Signed copies available at www.stevealtier.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Books a Million. Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone by Dave Whitaker
ollow a mouse nicknamed Otter who soars over a castle on the back of a falcon, practices jousting with a squirrel as his horse, rummages through Merlin’s spell books, and storms the corridors of Camelot with a cat and dozens of knights chasing him. Most importantly, Otter befriends a boy named Arthur and helps him become literature’s most celebrated king. www.otterandarthur.com Available at Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
BOOK SHELF The Gifted Ones The Fairytale by P.G. Shriver
The Gifted Ones The Dream by P.G. Shriver
heater—on the run and on her own—uses her unusual power to keep Jazz from committing a crime. When the two wanted- poster teens discover they are linked in several ways, such as the tale told by their late mothers, they team up to seek the truth behind their tragic lives, the fairytale location, and the ten like them.
our Gifted Ones collide after the murder of Rebecca’s grandmother. While running from the law, they discover their connections—such as dreams shared through physical contact. They dream of Cheater and Jazz, locked away in darkness, and uncover a secret that points them to the fairytale destination—Paradise. They battle to save two in danger and take back Nathan’s birthright.
www.geanpenny.com Available at Amazon and Smashwords.
www.geanpenny.com Available at Amazon and Smashwords.
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Dallas
fter Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, twelveyear-old Tomi and her Japanese American family are split up and forced to leave their California home to live in internment camps. Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this moving story of a young girl overcoming prejudices.
www.sleepingbearpress.com Available at Sleeping Bear Press and 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.
BOOK SHELF Buck’s Tooth by Diane Kredensor
uck’s situation is just silly enough for young readers, who worry about teeth and just about everything else, to laugh at, raising this above the many other books about self-acceptance that populate the shelves. Lots of sight words, full-color cartoon illustrations, easy-to-read speech bubbles, humor, and lots of likable characters add up to a surefire hit. —Kirkus Reviews TRAILER LINK Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Simon & Schuster. The Gift-Knight’s Quest by Dylan Madeley
n unready Crown Princess, trying to outwit the conspirators who accidentally landed her on the throne. A soldier on a journey, who questions why a family long at odds with his own would summon him to protect their youngest and last. An empire’s fate in the balance. Welcome to a new and vividly imagined world. Immerse yourself. www.troubador.co.uk Available at Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and Kobo.
The Artist and the Lava Beast by Maria G. Mackavey
lava beast becomes the catalyst for a tale about learning to accept natural developments. The beast—destined to be transformed from an energetic force into a cooled rock—learns to embrace change, not with resignation but with a sense of belonging. In this story, the theme of transformation offers potential teaching points for children ready for chapter books. —Foreword Clarion Review www.theartistandthelavabeast.com Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and AuthorHouse. The Crystal Key by T.L. Howard
he Crystal Key is an out-ofthe-box, fast paced, fantasy adventure, that offers readers anguish and excitement, softened with humor, in a uniquely engaging struggle between good and evil. Follow Mirah as she rides headlong to meet a destiny that will not only change her life forever, but the world as well.
www.tlhowardauthor.com Available at Amazon.
character spotlight Ages 8-12 Aoleon the Martian Girl by Brent LeVasseur www.brentlevasseur.com
fter three nights camping out in a Nebraska wheat field waiting for a crop circle to appear, Middle Shelf finally caught up with intergalactic traveler, Aoléon, and we managed to snag an interview.
Middle Shelf: Welcome to Earth! You are Aoléon The Martian Girl, I presume? Aoléon: Yes! Greetings! Zoot: BREEET!
MS: What is the correct pronunciation of your name? Aoléon: My name in your tongue is pronounced “AE-OHLEE-UHN.”
MS: Oh my! What is that?! Aoléon: Not to worry! That is just my pet moog, Zoot. Just ignore him. HeLa totally harmless. ild en Ch By is ur [MS: Note to reader, Zoot is Aoléon’s pet moog who tagged along with her for this interview and kept trying to lick me.]
MS: Nice to meet you Aoléon. Tell me about yourself. What are your interests or hobbies? Aoléon: I am what most on my planet would consider a typical teenage Martian girl. However, because I live outside of your linear third-density time frame, I
am much, much older than a teenage Terran human. I enjoy skyboarding, playing psi-ball and, of course, eating pizza! MS: What brought you to Earth? Aoléon: I absolutely LOOOVE your planet! I love all the green “vegi-tables,” making crop circles in your wheat fields and, of course, eating my favorite dish—pizza—not as tart as Martian pizza made with galact, but still wonderful! And now that I have a close friend who lives on Terra—that’s what we call Earth where I come from—I visit your planet regularly. Did I mention I LOOOOVE pizza?! MS: Apparently your home planet, Mars, is not the Mars we Earthlings think it is. How so? Aoléon: My first impression of Terran humans, or “Earthlings” as you call yourselves, was through my close friend, Gilbert. Some of the things that surprised him were that an entire city could exist inside the extinct volcano Olympus Mons; that our twin moons, Phobos and Deimos, are in fact spaceships placed in orbit 30 million Terran solar years ago; and that there are ancient ruins scattered across the surface of Mars from a time before the Great Cataclysm. However, probably the most shocking realization for him was that Lyraen humans lived on Mars before they came to live on Earth. So in a sense, your ancient ancestors were Martian!
MS: Tell us about your most exciting adventure together. Aoléon: One time, when I was taking my pilot’s exam, we were captured by the Draconians and were almost eaten alive. Our escape and survival makes quite a tale! MS: I understand you have been trying to thwart an invasion of Earth. How is that going? Aoléon: With one challenge after another, it has been amazing how we all (Gilbert, Bizwat, Helios, Zoot and I) have surprised ourselves, and each other, by overcoming overwhelming odds. To get the details and find out how everything turns out, you will have to read the books. Enjoy!
MS: How did you meet Gilbert? Aoléon: I guess you could say meeting Gilbert was fate and that our telepathic connection compelled me to come to Terra and make crop circles in a field near his home. He sensed my arrival and came out to investigate, and we literally bumped into each other that first night in a wheat field. Then Gilbert’s hostile neighbor chased us, and the rest, as they say in your world, is history! 47
How did Chronicle Books get started?
Chronicle Books was started in 1967 as a division of the San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper. It is now independently owned by a descendant of the founder of the newspaper.
What makes Chronicle Books special?
Chronicle Books publishes books and gifts that are instantly recognizable for their spirit, creativity, and value. We often hear “I knew it was a Chronicle Book before I picked it up.” Our focus on design, creating community with our
readers and fans, and sense of fun all make Chronicle Books special.
What awards and recognitions have your children’s books received?
So many! The Caldecott Honor for Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle is the highest honor our children’s books have received. We’ve won dozens of American Library Association awards, state book awards, Boston Globe-Horn Book honors, Bologna Ragazzi Awards, The Cook Prize, New York Times Best Illustrated, and so many
more. We’re thrilled to have two picture books on the New York Times Bestseller list that have each been there for more than three years: Press Here by Herve Tullet and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Ringer.
Tell us about your recent & future middle grade releases.
Recently, we published The Water and the Wild, a classic fantasy in the spirit of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. A plucky 12-year-old orphan goes down a magic portal to a fantastical world and
books to check out
discovers she’s the heir to a legendary fairy family who may have the ability to save the life of her sick best friend. In October 2015, we are releasing an amazing novel in verse by K. A. Holt called House Arrest. Timothy makes a poor choice to steal a wallet for money to help his family that is struggling with medical bills because of his baby brother’s severe illness. He’s caught, and one of the conditions of his probation is that he keep a journal. House Arrest is that journal. It’s smart, funny, heartbreaking, and all too real for too many kids in this country.
Fish Finelli: Operation Fireball by E.S. Farber Jason Beene (Illustrator) Ages 8-12
Write Here Write Now by Nicole LaRue and Naomi Davis Lee
hen Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish’s 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepower Viper. Even if Fish, Roger, and T. J. can fix the measly 5-horsepower motor, it can’t compete with Bryce’s boat. With $9.63 between them, do the guys even have a chance of beating Bryce at the Classic?
iscover, imagine, observe, explore, document, draw, share, and play with this illustrated guided journal for tweens. With quirky prompts, cool quotes, and terrific illustrations, this one-of-akind journal is the ultimate place for young writers to get creative and get writing!
of the book blogs Jack by Liesl Shurtliff Random House Review by
BECKY’S BOOK REVIEWS
really enjoyed Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump. I enjoyed this one as well, but, perhaps a tiny bit less. Still, it’s easy to recommend both books to fans of fairy tale adaptations. Jack is the hero. He’s grown up hearing stories of his ancestor Jack who fought giants. But he’s not truly expecting an adventure of his own. After all, giants aren’t stomping around making threats as far as he can tell. At least until they are. When it rains dirt, watch out! For Jack’s life has just become more dangerous and exciting. Giants have suddenly become a BIG, BIG problem. They are coming down from the sky, stealing crops, stealing buildings, stealing people. Jack’s Dad is
one of the taken. Jack is determined to go off and find his father. He plants magic beans, and his adventure begins... I liked meeting Jack and his younger sister, Annabella. I liked his adventures in the land of the giants. He meets a few giants. Some giants are nice, such as Martha, the cook. But not all giants are nice. One is HORRIBLE. He is the king, of course, King Barf (or King Bartholomew). And then there are the pixies! As for the plot, it was really well done: lots of action and adventure. He’s always doing something or going somewhere. There’s never a slow moment. I also think there’s a good bit of world development. It’s just a fun read.
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. MIDDLE SHELF MAGAZINE
BEST OF THE BLOGS AWARD 2015 50
THE BOOK WARS CARPINELLO’S WRITING PAGES CINDY READS A LOT
HIDDEN IN PAGES THE HIDING SPOT MARIA’S MELANGE
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart Scholastic, Inc. Review by
A BOOK AND A HUG
ow afraid are you of dying? What should a friend do when her friend is making a choice that is causing other people pain... a whole lot of pain? To say that The Honest Truth is poignant is to say Gone With the Wind is a little film about the Civil War. Some people are gifted in two ways. They recognize the deep currents in the world and people around them. Then they take that awareness and perception and they find the words to describe those currents and to shine light on them so the rest of us can see them and engage with them. This author has an extraordinary gift for honoring the pain and hurt in all of us. This author
Ages 8-12 has an impressive grasp of the wonder of and power of people helping other people. So, it is a profoundly moving story and at the same time it is the story of what it is like to be a guy who can’t fight a fair fight against the bullies, who can’t fight a fair fight against a disease, but who is smart enough and who loves himself and his life enough to choose to go out on his own terms. Get the tissue box now. Get ready for a story of courage, of great heart, and of the invisible bonds that get us through the toughest hours and magnify the happiest days. Don’t miss it. It’s a gift.
>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com MR. RIPLEY’S ENCHANTED BOOKS NERDY BOOK CLUB NOT ACTING MY AGE THE O.W.L.
PROSE AND KAHN REDEEMED READER
TOBY: Jogging Jogging because I like the rhythm of my feet on the track. Jogging because it feels good and strong to run past the pain that is squeezing at my side. On Track by Kathryn Apel University of Queensland Press www.katswhiskers.wordpress.com
Jogging because even though my legs drag, my feet flump, my shoulders slump and my fingers tingle â€Ś I can do it.
SHAUN: No Bludge Some kids think sports days are bludge days; released from the classroom they hang out with friends, scream and run riot. But I want to do well in all events, even shotput if I can, ’cause you never know when someone will have a bad day and you’ll have a good day. But front and centre of my focus is the net, the concrete circle and the open grassy arc of the discus field. Today is the day.
ON TRACK. Copyright © 2015 by Kathryn Apel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, University of Queensland Press.
It wasnâ€™t about luck. It never had been. Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith
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contributors APEL, KATHRYN Kathryn Apel is the Australian author of several books for kids, including On Track, The Bully on the Bus, and This is Mud. She paints pictures with words because, much as she’d love to, Kat can’t draw. Her goal is to find the perfect word for every situation.
KELLY JONES Jones has worked as a librarian and a bookseller, and is a raiser of (much-loved, but fairly ordinary) chickens. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is her first novel.
KIRBY, MATTHEW J. Kirby is the author of the acclaimed middle grade novels The Clockwork Three, Icefall, and The ROBERT BEATTY Beatty lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Lost Kingdom, as well as one book in the New Carolina with his wife and three daughters. He York Times bestselling series Infinity Ring. Matwrites full-time now, but in his past lives he was thew currently lives in Utah. one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of LANEY, REBECCA Beatty Robotics, and the CTO and chairman of Laney promotes the love of reading via her various blogs: Becky’s Book Reviews, Young ReadNarrative magazine. ers, and Operation Actually Read the Bible. She has a BA and MA in English literature and a MLS CALLAGHAN, CINDY Author of many books for tweens, Callaghan degree from Texas Woman’s University. grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earn- LANGRIDGE, BARB ing her BA in English and French, and MBA from Langridge not only blogs at A Book and a Hug, the University of Delaware. Her book, Just Add but she also does the children’s book recomMagic, is now a TV series with Amazon Studios. mendations for WBALTV Channel 11 in Baltimore, Maryland and has a cable television show, Books Alive, for which she interviews authors COLLINS, PAUL Paul Collins has written many books for young and illustrators. adults. He is best known for his fantasy and science fiction titles in The Jelindel Chronicles and LEVASSEUR, BRENT The Quentaris Chronicles. He won the Inaugural LeVasseur lives in New York when he is not comPeter McNamara, A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, muting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D and William Atheling awards.
cool reads for cool kids.
contributors animation, musical composition, and intergalactic ning Holes. He majored in economics at the Unispace travel. He also enjoys various sports such versity of California at Berkeley and has a law as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving. degree from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He lives in Austin, Texas. METAYER, ANNABELLE Metayer is the artist behind many children’s SMITH, TAMARA ELLIS books and other works of art, including Lost in Smith is a children’s book writer, a mother of two Rome, Lost in Paris, Twintuition, and more. She daughters and a son, and a trained birth doula. fell in love with graphic and web design while en- She graduated in 2007 from the Vermont College rolled in an animation course in Vancouver. She of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children lives in Montreal, Québec. and Young Adults. She lives in Vermont. Another Kind of Hurricane is her debut novel. POWELL, HUW Powell was born in Bristol, England and grew up STARR, LARA in the village of Pill in North Somerset, where he Lara Starr is Chronicle’s Senior Publicist for Chilwrote his first stories for his family. Huw start- dren’s books, and the author of Wookiee Pies, ed writing while working in London, where he Clone Scones and other Galactic Goodies, Ice wrote on trains and in cafes using a pen and note- Sabers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar™ Cookbook pad. Spacejackers is his first book for children. and Cookie Cutters Kit, and Chef Olivia™. RUSSELL, SHARMAN APT Author of many books for adults and children, Russell’s works have been awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the New Mexico Presswomen’s Zia Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Writers at Work Fellowship, and the Henry Joseph Jackson Award. SACHAR, LOUIS Sachar is the beloved author of many children’s books, including Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Small Steps, and Newbery Award win-
WARDEN, STRAT Warden grew up in Nebraska in the 1960s and served as a corpsman with the US Marines before earning a commission in the US Navy Medical Corps. He served as a general surgeon in the US Navy and later had a private practice in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Huskers is his debut novel. 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.
Published on Jul 10, 2015
Readers 8 to 14, find your next favorite book in Middle Shelf magazine. In this issue: Louis Sachar, Matthew J. Kirby, Cindy Callaghan, and...