JENNIFER RICHARD JACOBSON JORDAN STRATFORD ELSA MORA Mystery & Mayhem! Andrews McMeel Publishing Poetry: Random Body Parts
for Best Independently Published Children’s, Middle Grade, and Teen Books.
Any independently published book in any genre in these categories is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $40 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Middle Shelf magazine. In each of the three categories (Children’s, Middle Grade, and Teen), an overall winner will be named as well as five finalists. All winners and finalists will be featured in the November/December issue of Middle Shelf magazine. The overall winners in each category will each receive a year’s worth of full-page ads in Middle Shelf magazine (rate card value $4,500). In addition, more than 100 books deemed by the editors as “notable” entries will be featured in the November/December issue of Middle Shelf magazine.
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Illustration: from Odd, Weird & Little by Patrick Jennings
COOL READS FOR KIDS
“Those who like unusual ghost stories without the usual horror will enjoy this book.” —Publishers Weekly
“A fast-paced plot and intricate world pull the reader along.” —Booklist
Belladonna Johnson just wants to be normal. Okay, she can talk to ghosts, but everyone has their problems. And since her parents are dead—but “living” in their house—this is a pretty convenient problem to have. Then one day, the stars go out. Just for a second. And the ghosts start to disappear ... Soon Belladonna and her friend Steve find themselves on a dangerous quest to the deserted, decaying Other World, where the spirits usually dwell. They need to find out where Belladonna’s parents and all the other ghosts have gone—before it’s too late.
march/april 2015 contents
jennifer richard jacobson interview with the author of Paper Things
jacci turner interview with the author of Shipwrecked
a word from the editor
themed books: indie books
common core pick
cool reads for cool kids
riley & laraâ€™s reviews
on our shelf
38 novelty 39
jordan stratford interview with the author of The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency
best of the book blogs
under the covers with author/illustrator elsa mora
character spotlight an interview with Ruby Redfort
Images from Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison and Willy Maykit in Space by Greg Tine
On the cover: Illustration by Kelly Murphy from The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency by Jordan Stratford
a word from the
hen I was in middle school, my favorite books were the Trixie Belden Mysteries series by Kathryn Kenny and Julie Campbell. There are 39 titles in the series, and I read them all. In fact, I still have them in a box in my garage. Even as I grew older, I found I just couldn’t part with Trixie. From Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, to Nate the Great and The 39 Clues, some of the most popular children’s books through the years have been, and continue to be, mysteries. This issue of Middle Shelf introduces many new titles in the genre, including The Girl with the Glass Bird, originally published in Britain and now available in the U.S., and Gargoyles Gone Awol, the newest addition to the Sesame Seade Mystery series. In addition, Middle Shelf’s special guests include award-winning author Jennifer Richard Jacobson, who talks about her new book, Paper Things, and cover artist Elsa Mora, who used sculpted paper to create the beautiful cover of The Water and the Wild. I am particularly excited about the addition of our new youth reviewer, Riley Balena, Teak’s younger brother and a book worm in his own right. He joins Middle Shelf with a glowing review of Patrick Jenning’s Odd, Weird & Little, a humorous book about bullying. As always, we have lots of exciting new books to share with you. I hope as you thumb through these pages you will find one destined to become your new favorite read. Laurisa White Reyes editor-in-chief CLICK HERE to subscribe to Middle Shelf magazine for FREE. Find Middle Shelf on Facebook: www.facebook.com/middleshelfmagazine
HOLES IN MY SHOES is a heartwarming story of one family’s experiences during the Great Depression, revealing the resilience of the human spirit. Hope, faith, and humor were ever-present as families shared all that they had and fed homeless people at their doorsteps. In an era when computers, television and cell phones didn’t exist, families enjoyed simple pleasures. Breon’s collection of personal childhood experiences would make a perfect gift for those who lived through the nation’s desperate decade and those who want to know what it was like.
Breon has a remarkable memory and much to offer readers who know little about the struggles of everyday families during the Great Depression. —BLUEINK REVIEW
“I highly recommend this book, for anyone interested in learning what life was like during this time period, but more so for every school age child to learn about what it means to live your life not dependent upon or for things, but for the relationships with family, your neighbors, and your closest friends.” —AMAZON READER’S REVIEW
“Writing from the perspective of her childhood, Breon deals mainly with the lighter side of the issues families were facing, making her book suitable even for younger readers. … Her nostalgia for the humanity and happiness she experienced during those years is both obvious and infectious, making even those who did not live through the Depression almost wish they had.” —FOREWORD CLARION REVIEWS
In spite of the holes in her shoes, patched with pieces of cardboard, Breon had the time of her life during the Great Depression. She had a loving family, plenty of friends and a childhood filled with simple pleasures. —KIRKUS REVIEWS
Available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Xlibris
W W W.HOLESI NM YSHOES.NET
Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Jennifer Richard Jacobson is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers. Her book, Small as an Elephant, was nominated for multiple awards. In her new book, Jacobson tells the story about a boy without a home. Middle Shelf: What inspired you to tackle homelessness in Paper Things? Jennifer Richard Jacobson: As a writing consultant, Iâ€™m in classrooms across the country, working with students and listening to their stories. So many children struggle to learn against amazing odds. Recently, a second grader was falling asleep during a lesson. His teacher sent him over to me for a writing conference. It turned out that he and his brother regularly sleep, without a mattress, on a tile floor. Temperatures had been below zero for a week in his city. Of course he was exhausted! These are the children who inspired this bookâ€”and there are so many of them! 6
MS: What do you hope readers will gain from reading Ari’s story? Jacobson: First and foremost, I want readers to enjoy a good story about characters who interest them. However, I do believe that stories help build empathy, and I think this book might do that, too. MS: Which of your characters (if any) most resemble you? Jacobson: Ari certainly represents my tween self. I was not orphaned, nor homeless, but I did miss a lot of school because of illness, and I always felt left behind. To pass the time when I was home (and to occupy my imagination), I created imaginary worlds from catalog cutouts in the same way that Ari does. And just like Ari, I possessed that fierce combination of optimism and resiliency. Still do. MS: How has being a teacher helped you as a writer? Jacobson: Teaching keeps me connected to my readership and helps me develop stories that honor their perceptions and experiences. Writers can easily fall into the trap of sentimentalizing childhood, or creating a character that is “every child” (but really no child), and I do my very best to avoid both. Middle graders are sometimes naïve and at other times amazingly astute—I like trying to capture this seesaw time through my writing.
is Jacqueline Briggs Martin, the author of Snow Flake Bentley and many other wonderful picture books. Jackie writes about people who have strong passions and who, by doing what they love, bring so much wonder and good to this world. Of course, Jackie is just like her characters. MS: Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever met? Jacobson: Eleanor Duckworth—one of my professors in graduate school. She reinforced my belief that in classrooms: we’re all teachers; we’re all learners. I’ve carried that philosophy like a talisman through my entire teaching life.
MS: What is your favorite inspirational quote? “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. MS: Who is your hero? Jacobson: My mother, a person who Be astonished. overcame many hardships in her own Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver. childhood, is one of my heroes. Another 7
Shipwrecked by Jacci Turner
Jacci Turner Have you ever had a day that started bad and got worse? Jillie’s day starts when the ship she’s traveling on sinks in shark-infested waters. With her parents missing, she’s left solely responsible for her spoiled little sister, Ruby. When a strange boy named Omar pulls them from the water, Jillie is at once grateful and suspicious. Join the adventure as Jillie and Ruby navigate a mysterious island where they must battle wild animals, crazy weather and creepy people, while searching for the girls’ parents. When no one is who they say, and nothing is as it seems, family is all you can trust. 8
Middle Shelf: Hi Jacci. Tell us about your new book, Shipwrecked. Jacci Turner: Shipwrecked is about two sisters who…wait for it…get shipwrecked! There is a mysterious boy that appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to help them. Is he trustworthy? THAT is the question! The island itself has some wild characters, and…there may be magic! MS: Where did you get the inspiration for the story? Turner: Well, when my friend, author David Mark Brown, asked me to be his first Epifiction guinea pig, he said it needed to be a melodrama. I’ve never written in that style, so I just threw these two sisters in the ocean, with sharks circling around them, and then held on for the ride. MS: What is Epifiction? Turner: David came up with the idea for a serialized story students could read and influence in real time. Teachers subscribe to the Epifiction story, and the author writes a few chapters and then offers three options for plot directions from which the students can choose. The students all vote on the website and the author follows the plot direction that gets the most votes. It was terrifying as an author to have to write that fast. I would write Tuesday, it would be edited on Wednesday, posted by Friday, and voted on by Monday. It was quite a crazy pace for eight weeks, but the hope was to get reluctant readers on board, and I think it worked. By the way, the kids almost always picked an option I would not have chosen so it was really fun!
MS: What if someone wants to read Shipwrecked in print? Turner: The completed Shipwrecked story is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both ebook and print formats. MS: What else are you working on? Turner: I have already published two series: The Birthright series and The Finding Home series. I’m just finishing book four in The Finding Home series and have an alternative history story called Cracker coming out soon.
Epifiction for Schools is an interactive, serial fiction subscription service for schools, grades 4 through 8. Their goals are to create passionate, close readers and to become invaluable to teachers.
Jordan Stratford Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency! History, mystery, and science collide in this new series for middle-grade readers.
Middle Shelf: Who are Lady Ada Byron and Mary Godwin? Jordan Stratford: Ada was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, and was a brilliant mathematician. She was the first person to sort out the problem of turning “big math” into “little math” that could be crunched by a mechanical computer. This makes her the first programmer. She also saw that comput10
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford Kelly Murphy (illustrator) Random House Children’s Books www.jordanstratford.com
ers could be used for more than just calculations: she was the first person to see their potential in creating art, composing music. Mary was the daughter of the famous feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and was the author of the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein. So these two girls gave us everything from Star Wars to the iPad, ultimately, and they made their contribution to science and literature as young women. That’s kind of amazing. MS: Why did you choose to write a mystery? Stratford: Actually, I chose to write an adventure. A mystery was merely the result of the adventure. I blame Mary, it was her idea. Or arguably it was Ada’s. Anyway, it’s not my fault. It’s like that with characters, sometimes. They can boss you around. MS: What books did you enjoy reading as a kid? Stratford: I just grabbed whatever was nearest, so growing up in a house full of sisters I was just as likely to read Nancy Drew as Hardy Boys, or Little Women as much as the ’50s sci-fi pulp I had a passion for. But I particularly liked stories that reflected this one really interesting secret of childhood—that all the important stuff happens when no one is watching. It’s not at recess; it’s the walk home from school. It’s not supervised; it’s when you go around the corner. That’s when you find the message in the bottle. That’s how you find buried treasure. All kids know this, the power of those moments and the danger in them.
MS: What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you? Stratford: I once walked into a frame shop and a fellow came out of the back with a frozen salmon, made the “Jaws” dundun-dun-dun noise, and hit me with the fish. SMACK! Quite hard. For no reason. Then he left. That was weird, but I laughed because it was just so perfectly random. MS: What are you working on now? Stratford: I’m at work on book four of the Wollstonecraft series. Much fun, and I love hanging out with these characters. In between bouts of writing, I’m still touring on book one, so that’s reading to schools and libraries and getting to meet readers. And that’s amazing and encouraging. I have so much confidence in the kids I get to speak with; they’re insightful and kind and curious and little revolutionaries. Science for them is so natural, rooted in wonder and curiosity and poking things to see what happens. I love that. It’s going to save the world. 11
MYSTERIES & MAYHEM The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly
The Girl with the Glass Bird
by Ted Sanders
by Esme Kerr
Scholastic, Inc. www.scholastic.com
rom the moment Horace F. Andrews sees the sign from the bus—a sign with his own name on it—everything changes. The sighting leads him underground, to the House of Answers, a hidden warehouse full of mysterious objects. But there he finds only questions. When Horace finds the Box of Promises in the curio shop, he quickly discovers that ordinary-looking objects can hold extraordinary power. From the enormous, sinister man shadowing him to the gradual mastery of his newfound abilities to his encounters with Chloe—a girl who has an astonishing talent of her own—Horace follows a path that puts the pair in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between two warring factions in which every decision they make could have disastrous consequences. 12
hrough a series of strange coincidences, orphan Edie finds herself at Knight’s Haddon, a stately boarding school for girls. But Edie is not just another student. She’s been sent to Knight’s Haddon by her art-dealer uncle to investigate the disappearance of a precious crystal bird that belongs to his secretive client’s daughter. Anastasia, a Russian royal, has a fragile disposition and a melodramatic bent— or so the headmistress and all the other girls say. Edie’s assignment is not only to find the missing glass bird; it’s to befriend the troubled blueblood and keep a watchful eye on her. When the two girls uncover a dangerous plot, how can they stop it? Inside the walls of the isolated estate, is there anyone they can trust?
MYSTERIES & MAYHEM Murder is Bad Manners
by Robin Stevens
by Tricia Springstubb
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers www.robin-stevens.co.uk
Ages 8-12 Ages 10-14
aisy Wells and Hazel Wong are best friends at Deepdean School for Girls, and they both have a penchant for solving mysteries. The only problem? They have nothing to investigate. But that changes once Hazel discovers the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell— and the body subsequently disappears. She and Daisy are certain a murder must have taken place, and they can think of more than one person with a motive. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime—and to prove that it happened— before the killer strikes again, Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects, and use all the cunning, scheming, and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
oonpenny is a tiny island in a great lake. When the summer people leave and the ferries stop running, just the tried-and-true islanders are left behind. Flor and her best, her perfect friend, Sylvie, are the only eleven-year-olds for miles and miles—and Flor couldn’t be happier. But come the end of summer, unthinkable things begin to happen. Sylvie is suddenly, mysteriously, whisked away to school on the mainland, and her big sister has a secret, and Flor fears it’s a dangerous one. Meanwhile, a geologist and his peculiar daughter arrive to excavate prehistoric trilobites, one of the first creatures to develop sight. Soon Flor is helping them. As her own ability to see her life on this little lump of limestone evolves, she faces truths about those she loves—and about herself— she never imagined. 13
MYSTERIES & MAYHEM Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions by Sheila Grau Amulet Books www.twitter.com/sheilagrau
elcome to Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the premier trainer of minions for Evil Overlords everywhere. No student is prouder to be at Dr. Critchlore’s than Runt Higgins, a twelve-year-old werewolf. Runt loves everything about Dr. Critchlore’s. He loves his classes—like History of Henchmen and Introduction to Explosives. He loves his friends. And he loves his foster family, who took him in when his wolf pack couldn’t. But not everyone loves Dr. Critchlore’s as much as Runt. After a series of disasters, each worse than the next, it’s clear that someone is trying to shut the school down. It’s up to Runt, who knows the place better than anybody, to figure out who’s behind the attacks... and to save his home, and Dr. Critchlore himself, from total destruction.
The Black Crow Conspiracy
The Penelope Tredwell Mysteries #3 by Christopher Edge Albert Whitman & Company www.christopheredge.co.uk
enelope Tredwell, the pen behind bestselling author, Montgomery Flinch, is cursed with writer’s block. She needs a sensational new story or her magazine, the Penny Dreadful, will go under. So when a mysterious letter arrives, confessing to the impossible crime of stealing the Crown Jewels just days before the King’s coronation, Penelope thinks she has found a plot to enthrall her readers, until the police charge Montgomery Flinch with the theft of the jewels. Can Penelope solve the mystery, restore the jewels, rescue Monty, save the magazine, and keep the true identity of Montgomery Flinch a secret?
MYSTERIES & MAYHEM Gargoyles Gone AWOL A Sesame Seade Mystery by Clementine Beauvais Holiday House www.clementinebeauvais.com/ eng
here have all the gargoyles gone? Supersleuth Sesame Seade is on her second case the minute she learns that several of the monstrous stony sentinels on the Cambridge University rooftops have gone missing. But as she courageously tracks down clues—some of which lead her to dizzying heights—and starts piecing them together, she realizes that gargoyles gone AWOL isn’t the only mystery afoot in town. From peculiar footprints on the lawns and torrents of laboratory mice running wild to the strange lethargy of Peter Mortimer, Sesame’s normally ferocious cat, Cambridge’s number-one supersleuth suddenly has her hands full!
Knightly & Son: K-9 by Rohan Gavin Bloomsbury, USA www.knightleyandson.com
lan Knightley specializes in cases too weird for the normal channels of investigation to solve. But that’s okay because his thirteen-year-old tweedwearing son, Darkus, is there to make sense of his dad’s crazy theories. And it’s a good thing, too, because they’re both struggling to find the solution to a very unusual canine case. Could there be werewolves afoot? And is there a link to the suspicious organization known simply as the Combination? Mysterious trained hounds are attacking policemen at the full moon. There are rumours of a werewolf at a top London beauty spot. And now two stealth dogs seem to be following Darkus. On the scent of a villain who makes the hound of the Baskervilles look like a Labradoodle, will Knightley & Son make it to the next full moon? 15
L WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH Middle Shelf’s Common Core Pick
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz Miriam Klein Stahl (illustrator) City Lights Books www.citylights.com 16
ike all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of “A is for Apple,” A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farm workers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement. And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds. The book includes an introduction that discusses what it means to be “rad” and “radical,” an afterword with 26 suggestions for how you can be “rad,” and a Resource Guide with ideas for further learning and reading. American history was made by countless rad—and often radical— women. By offering a fresh and diverse array of female role models, we can remind readers that there are many places to find inspiration, and that being smart and strong and brave is rad. Rad American Women A to Z will be appreciated by various age groups. It is Common Core aligned for students grades 3 - 8. Pre-school and young children will be captured by the bright visuals and easily modified texts, while the subject matter will stimulate and inspire high-schoolers and beyond.
The Emerald Ring “The Emerald Ring is an exciting and mysterious fantasy featuring fast-paced action, a scary villain, and a spunky young heroine.” —SUZANNE WILLIAMS, co-author of The Goddess Girls series
The Ruby Pendant “Rich with atmosphere, and full of delightful shivers, The Ruby Pendant pulled me right in. Part mystery, part ghost story, it is completely enjoyable.” —BRADEN BELL, author of the Middle School Magic series
COOL READS FOR
KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.
Ages 8-12 Whole in the Clouds by Kristine Kibbee Zharme Publishing | www.facebook.com/Wholeintheclouds
n ethereal woman of perhaps thirty peered quizzically back at Cora through the glass. She had flowing, copper-red hair that glistened like spun silk and a pair of the most haunting green eyes Cora had ever seen. Her skin was the color of baby-doll porcelain and coupled with her rosy cheeks, reminded Cora of fresh strawberries and cream. The woman’s mouth, pursed in confusion, was delicately shaped and her full, pouting lips possessed a natural hue of crimson that no makeup could duplicate. “Who is she?” Cora whispered, turning to question Motley. She had already begun fantasizing that this beauty was a fairy-book princess who had been trapped inside the mirror by an evil witch. Perhaps Cora could rescue her? The corners of Motley’s mouth curled up into an undeniable grin. Cora had never seen a dog smile before and found it curiously entertaining. “Who do you think she is?” Motley teased. “Quit it Motley! Who is she? Is she trapped or something? We should help her, don’t ya’ think?” “Jeez, you humans,” Motley scoffed. “If we dogs weren’t here to lead you around you’d never make it anywhere! Come on Cora, think. Don’t you remember what Celius said—about everything being backwards down there?” “Well, yeah,” “Okay, so things are right-ways up here. Insides match the outsides and likewise. My inside now matches my outside and the same goes for you. There are no tricks here.” Cora turned again towards the mirror and noted that the woman was now looking a
little perplexed. The worry lines in her forehead reminded Cora of the ones she, herself, wore the morning before an impending school day. With a breath of realization, the lines smoothed and faded. Cora reached her hand forward and touched the smooth surface of the cool glass. The woman did the same. Cora pursed her lips to speak. So did the woman. “It’s you Cora. It’s the real you,” Motley whispered from behind her.
Whole in the Clouds. Copyright © 2014 by Kristine Kibbee. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Zharme Publishing.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 19
Ages 7-10 Willy Maykit In Space by Greg Trine, James Burks (illustrator) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | www.gregtrine.com
he ship landed in a clearing in what looked like a huge forest, or, as Willy called it, Colorado, though he knew this was not the case. You can’t travel through space at many times the speed of light and end up in the Rockies. Can you? Willy looked out the window at the trees and the mountains, beyond which there were dark clouds. Storm clouds, Willy thought, and me without my rain boots. Not to mention his umbrella. But the storm clouds were miles away. Willy had a whole planet to explore. He’d worry about the weather later. Mr. Jipthorn pushed open the door of the ship and stepped out, followed by the entire class. “Boys and girls, let me have your attention,” Mr. Jipthorn began. “We are leaving here in three hours. Feel free to look around, but do not wander off alone.” “Planet Ed,” Willy said to Randy. “Can you believe it?” “Not really,” Randy said. He held out his arm. “Pinch me.” “If you say so,” Willy was an expert pincher. “Ouch!” Randy said, but he was smiling. “Wow. Planet Ed.” “See you later, Randy.” “Where are you going?” “Exploring. It’s what I do.” Willy dragged his duffel away from the other kids, completely ignoring his teacher’s instructions. Mr. Jipthorn was going on and on about staying nearby, about safety on a foreign planet, about keeping close to the ship. And everyone was listening.
Everyone except Willy Maykit. He was too busy hauling his duffel to the edge of the clearing and yanking on the zipper. Seconds later, Phelps poked his head out. “Caw,” Phelps said. Willy knew this was the bird’s way of saying, “I don’t appreciate being cooped up for three hours, but thanks for the Cheerios.” “You’re welcome,” Willy muttered.
Willy Maykit in Space. Copyright © 2015 by Greg Trine. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 20
Ages 8-12 Maisy and the Money Marauder by Elizabeth Woodrum www.elizabethwoodrum.com |
hadows danced across Maisy’s face in the dim light. Dramatic music filled her bedroom, and she reached for the popcorn bowl without moving her eyes from her little TV screen. It was a tense moment in one of her favorite old mystery movies. The villain was about to be caught. Maisy knew that the detective would soon march out from a shadowy corner and catch the bad guy. He would be wearing a long trench coat and a fedora hat. He’d sound so impressive when he demanded that the villain, a sneaky looking robber named Vinny, turn himself in that Vinny would have no choice but to give up. But, Maisy was still on edge while she watched the scene unfold. She was curled up with her favorite pup, Reesie, snuggled under the blanket beside her. As soon as Maisy had turned off the lights and started the movie, the little dog had nudged the pillows with her nose to show that she wanted under the covers. Maisy had complied with her request and tossed the pillows to the floor, so that she could scurry under the fluffy, purple comforter. Now, Maisy reached over and patted the lump that was the tiny dog. The movie wasn’t very scary. After all, it was old and in black and white. Movies like that were not scary at all compared to some movies made today. But, still, Maisy loved the stories and detectives in the old movies so much that she couldn’t help but be drawn into them every time she watched one. She felt a little better having her dog there with her.
Suddenly, the moment she had been anticipating was on the screen. The detective smoothly arrived on the scene and, after a little scuffle, took control. Vinny gave in and put his hands up to show he would go quietly. Maisy relaxed and munched the last bits of her popcorn.
Maisy and the Money Marauder. Copyright © 2015 by Elizabeth Woodrum. Reproduced by permission of the author.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21
Ages 9-13 Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj Albert Whitman & Company | www.varshabajaj.com
he floodgate of questions gushes open. “Mom, why has he never wanted to see me? Are you in touch with him? Where is he now? Why didn’t he stay to see me?” Mom refuses to look at me. She’s almost peeled her nail off. I can see her gulp repeatedly. She looks as guilty as I had when I tried to hide a bad grade. “Days after graduation, he returned to India. We never talked about the night he proposed. We talked a few more times after he returned home, but it wasn’t the same. It was stilted, long distance, and awkward. The phone lines echoed back then. He had a new life and a new job and he was so excited. He had moved on…” she trails off. “I didn’t realize until later that I was pregnant. I tried to call after I found out. I spoke to Kabir’s father, who didn’t seem pleased to talk to me. I left messages. I waited by the phone. Kabir never called back. Finally, hurt and upset, I moved back to Houston to be close to my parents without giving him a new address or phone number.” I don’t say a word. I feel cheated. How could she have given up so easily? “Then I wrote him a letter, a very long one. I registered it, so I’d know that he got it. I still have the return receipt from the postal service. I told him about being pregnant…” Even after all these years, Mom’s voice is strained. The silence in the room speaks. Writing that letter must have been so hard. Then she says softly, “Abby, he didn’t call.
He didn’t write back.” The hole in my heart is as big as the Texas sky. “Abby’s extravagant travels and first romance are enough to satisfy and amuse.” —Publishers Weekly
Ally Spencer Goes to Bollywood. Copyright © 2015 by Varsha Bajaj. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Albert Whitman & Company.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 22
Ages 8-12 The Bullet Catch: Murder by Misadventure by Amy and David Axelrod Holiday House | www.amyaxelrod.com
he doctor leaned in. He smelled Leo’s breath. Then he patted his back pocket. His eyes narrowed. “You dirty little . . .” The doctor grabbed Leo by the shirt and hoisted him up off the ground. Leo’s feet pedaled in search of concrete. “Everyone, check your pockets,” the doctor yelled as he dragged Leo through the crowd. “Look in your purses, make sure your valuables are still on your wrists and around your necks. The kid is a thief!” Leo spat the froth out of his mouth. “Honest, I ain’t!” Leo cried. “Let me go! I’m epileptic, apoplectic. I get the shakes. I have a condition, I need my pills. Where’s my mother? Take me to my mother, she’s waiting for me just ’round the corner. Please, doc, let go.” The doctor did not loosen his grip. They were only a few feet from the talker now. His face was red and puffy like a burned thumb. Leo heard the shrill of a police whistle. Never before had he been so close to being caught. There was no mercy in New York City for street thieves, regardless of age. Leo thought fast. There was only one thing to do. The idea made him sick, but he had no alternative. Leo shoved his hand into his pocket and grabbed all the money he’d stolen earlier that morning. The lump of bills and coins was heavy. He closed his eyes, said a short prayer and then cursed both Chapter Seven and Harry Houdini. The Right Way to Do Wrong promised this would happen to a thief eventually. Then he flung the money up
into the air. The people went wild, and in the confusion Leo wrestled his way loose and ran off through an alley, jumping over passed-out hobos and piled-high trash. He ran several blocks more, until the frigid air tore his insides to strips and he stopped to catch his breath.
The Bullet Catch: Murder by Misadventure. Copyright © 2015 by Amy and David Axelrod. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Holiday House.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23
Ages 8-12 I Live in a Doghouse by Beverly Stowe McClure MuseItUp Publishing | www. beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com
l ive in a doghouse. Not twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year, but when my mom says, “Nick, take Lily for a walk so I can bake this wedding cake, birthday cake, graduation cake, or whatever,” I pretend I don’t hear her and run to hide in the doghouse. It’s not that I don’t like Lily. She’s okay for an eighteen-month-old, I guess, and she is my half-sister. Yeah, that sounds weird, doesn’t it? Like she’s only half a kid. She’s really whole. See, Mom and I were getting along okay after Dad left, when I was five. Then Jake Walker came into the picture, with Grace, who’s ten, one year younger than me. (She’s another story.) So Jake is my stepfather, and Grace is my stepsister. Then Lily was born. My mom is Lily’s mom, but Lily’s dad is not my dad, which makes Lily my half-sister. And my life’s not my own anymore. Take this morning, for example, the first day of summer vacation. I woke up to Mom rattling pans in the kitchen. She runs this catering service from our house and has a big wedding coming up—hors d’oeuvres (appetizers), shrimp, lobster, cake, the works. She was really busy. I knew what was coming. Before I could escape to the doghouse, Mom caught me. Now, instead of skateboarding with my best friend, Gus, the way I planned to do, I’m slinking down the sidewalk, nudging the stroller along, Lily chirping “Ki-Ki,” her name for me in baby talk. For a little girl, she has a mighty loud voice. It rings through the air as shrill
as fire truck sirens, alerting everyone within hearing distance. I duck my head and peer over the top of my sunglasses. Lucky for me the street is empty. I’d die of humiliation if Gus or the guys from school saw me. To make matters worse, if that was possible, Grace tags along, her pickle face puckered, as usual. I think it would split into a jillion pieces if she smiled.
I Live in a Doghouse. Copyright © 2015 by Beverly Stowe McClure. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, MuseItUp Publishing.
COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 24
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RILEY recommends Ages 8-12
11-year-old Riley Balena looks at the world with curiosity and excitement. His explorations include traveling to 19 states, rock climbing, fishing, prospecting, visiting historical sites, and splunking. He enjoys Boy Scouts, soccer, swimming, construction, archery, video games, and spending time with his dog Coco. When he grows up he wants to be an underwater welder.
Odd, Weird & Little by Patrick Jennings
Egmont USA www.patrickjennings.com [Review] Odd, Weird & Little is about a new kid at school that is basically odd, weird, and little. He is picked on a lot, but, he makes a friend on his first day. The new kid at school isnâ€™t who you think he is, but by reading between the lines you should be able to discover his true identity. It usually takes me a while to get into a book, but this one was different. The minute I picked it up I couldnâ€™t stop reading it. I was so into the book that I finished it in one day. I would recommend this book to people who like fiction. If I had to change one thing about this book, I would make it longer because it was so fun to read. It grabbed me hook, line, and sinker and inspired me to read other books by the same author.
LARA’S reads Ages 10-14
by Pam Withers
Tundra www.pamwithers.com [Review] In Bolivia, 16-year-old Andreo and his friend Raul are about to attempt something epic and frightening that they have never done before. They endanger their lives as they ride their bikes in a race like no other. Both adopted when they were young, Andreo and Raul set off on a frantic search for both of their birth parents in a mysterious place, collecting information as they go along. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. If you love adventure stories, then you will love Andreo’s Race. The characters are really courageous and have no fear as they take their epic journey to find the truth. This book is a must read! I really loved it, and it’s a sad yet touching tale about a boy searching for his birth parents.
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:
COVERS with Elsa Mora www.artisaway.com
fter graduating from the Professional School of Visual Arts in her native Cuba, Elsa Mora was a teacher and later worked in an art gallery. As an independent artist, Elsa uses colored paper to create stunning 3-dimensional works of art, most recently featured on the cover of The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee. Come with us Under the Covers The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee to explore Elsa’s world of paper. Chronicle │ Ages 8–12
I decided to become an artist when I was about 8 years old. My older sister Ileana, who suffers from Schizophrenia, was the first artist that I knew, and she was my greatest inspiration from the beginning. As her health deteriorated, she became unable to continue art school, so I promised myself that I was going to do all the things that she couldnâ€™t do, such as graduating from art school and having a career as an artist. I knew that that would make her happy. Since I was a little girl, art has been an organic part of my life, and a survival tool as well. Growing up in a dysfunctional family in Cuba was a difficult experience, but art allowed me to create an alternate reality where everything was much better than in real life. 29
When Chronicle Books invited me to create a cover for The Water and the Wild, I was very excited. The first step was reading the novel, which I did about three times to capture as many details as possible. I took several notes regarding the physical appearance of the characters and personalities. My inspiration was Lottie, the main character. She went through great sacrifices to understand her origins and to help her best friend. Her journey in the novel is filled with exciting and scary adventures. Somehow Lottie reminded me of myself as a child. What saves her is the fact that she believes in magic, so I wanted to bring an element of magic into the cover.
From the beginning, Chronicle Books and I agreed on using paper sculpture as the medium for the cover. Paper sculpture is basically a combination of paper pieces cut out and shaped in different ways, then glued together to form a 3-dimensional piece. The main materials used to make paper sculptures are knives and scissors, paper, simple tools for shaping paper, and glue. Regarding the two initial concepts, one was entirely white with a small black element, and the other was colorful. We decided to go with the colorful version. That version evolved dramatically from the first concept. We had key elements such as the silver tree and Lottie, but initially everything looked too rigid. The atmosphere needed to be more dynamic, so I started making changes here and there until we were happy. 31
Once the final sketch was approved I started building the actual paper sculpture. The original piece is much larger than the actual size of the book cover. By making the piece larger I was able to capture more details. The last step was the photography. Photographing paper sculptures is tricky because light could totally change the appearance of the piece. I had to experiment with different lights until I got the depth and mysterious atmosphere that we were looking for. Seeing the finished high resolution file of the cover was similar to when you have a baby; a very exciting experience. It is even more exciting when the people that you’re working with are so good. Working with Melissa Manlove and Amelia Mack from Chronicle Books was a real pleasure.
I have designed several book covers for children and adults, but two of them are special to me. Blossom Buddies is a collection of photographs of characters that I created using natural elements and was inspired by my son Diego, who is Autistic. As a little boy he was fascinated by our garden in Los Angeles, CA, so I decided to amuse him by creating “plant people.” Fables de la Fontaine contains eight pop-up paper sculptures that I created to illustrate different classic fables. Some other books with covers I designed include ONE and Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch. ONE has been the most difficult cover that I have ever designed. I wish that I could share a picture here.
on our shelf
Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy Random House Children’s Books Ages 9–12
his story of two girls who run away from their respective abusive enslavements in search of the Underground Railroad and freedom grabbed my attention from the first line and kept me turning pages all the way to the end. Running Out of Night is wellresearched and does not hold its punches when it comes to the inhumane abuse endured by slaves and abolitionists alike. It is a story that respects this pivotal era of American history, a story that reveals the pain, the courage, and the hope that eventually changed the world.
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency by Jordan Stratford Kelly Murphy (illustrator) Random House Children’s Books Ages 8–12
hen a mesmerizing acorn goes missing, Lady Ada Byron and Mary Godwin enlist their intellect and their friends to track down the heirloom and catch the culprit—even if they need to evade their tutor, go to jail, and ride in a hot air balloon to do so! Brilliant characterization is accompanied by delightful illustrations, making this lighthearted novel easy and fun to read in one sitting. A must-read for fans of history, mystery, and witty young women, The Case of the Missing Moonstone is a charming first installment of what is sure to be a spectacular series.
The Trap by Steven Arntson
Waiting for a Sign by Esty Schachter
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Lewis Court Press
www.stevenarntson.com hen their lazy hometown in Iowa becomes the setting of a supernatural mystery, twins Helen and Henry combine their mundane physical lives with their action-packed metaphysical (subtle) lives to help to stop a ghost-like mystery man from causing chaos in both worlds. Science fiction meets a social study of the 1960s in this thrilling new novel by Steven Arnston. Fans will be inspired to write their own dream-inspired stories and figure out how to integrate imagination with action. Dynamic and fastpaced, The Trap left me wanting to go on more adventures with Henry in the subtle world!
www.twitter.com/schachteresty hen Shellyâ€™s older brother, Ian, learns that his deaf school will be closing, he struggles to fit in with his family. After a tragedy helps them find common ground, the siblings reconnect and try to find a way to keep the school open. The author does a wonderful job with including ASL in her book. The signed dialogue appears in italics, conveying the distinctiveness of the deaf culture and how to effectively communicate with those who are deaf. Waiting for a Sign is both touching and informative, and is a story I can recommend with confidence.
character spotlight www.rubyredfort.com
[Lauren Child on Ruby Redfort]
RUBY REFORT Lauren Child
By Lauren Child
uby, a genius code-cracker and daring detective, along with her sidekick butler, Hitch, works for a secret crime-busting organization called Spectrum. Ruby gets into lots of scrapes with evil villains, but sheâ€™s always icecool in a crisis. Just take a classic screwball comedy, add heaps of breathtaking action, and multiply it by Lauren Childâ€™s writing genius, and what have you got? Only the most exciting middlegrade series since, like, ever.
Middle Shelf: Hi, Ruby. So, what is the MOST important thing to remember as an undercover agent for Spectrum? Ruby Redfort: I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m a school kid, bozo, not an undercover agent, and I have no idea what Spectrum is... Is it some kinda paint company or something? MS: Is it tough being a “regular” kid and a spy? Ruby: Look, I can see you’re not gonna give up and go away, so I’m gonna try and answer these questions of yours, but just to humour you, OK? So let’s pretend I am a secret agent, and I actually know what the Sam Hill you are talking about… For one thing, I would never blab, let’s get that clear right now—“keep it zipped”—that would be my watch word, and I would imagine it would be the most important thing if one were going about one’s daily business leading a double life. MS: What are your three favorite spy gadgets? Ruby: IF I owned any spy gadgets, I think my top three might be: A. A watch that does a lot of cool things, you know, one that perhaps has an almost invisible titanium retractable cable and can be fired at some high up beam or hook, grab onto it, retract and airlift you to safety. B. A voice thrower disguised as a dog whistle might also be kind of handy. Speak into it and your voice sounds like it’s coming from somewhere else in the room. This little device could not only distract your enemy when you are in a tight spot but might also be useful if you are hiding out from Quent Humbert, the dullest kid in the universe. C. Getaway shoes. Do I need to describe what they do? The basic idea is that they have con-
cealed wheels, and I don’t mean like those lame wheelie shoes either. I mean shoes with power jets—you wanna travel at 91 miles per hour? No sweat. MS: You live by rules. Name one and how it’s helped you solve a mystery. Ruby: As it happens I do have a few Ruby Redfort Rules up my sleeve, and you might want to make them your rules too. IF I were to live by a rule, I think that rule might be: You can never be completely sure what might happen next. That’s rule ONE, by the way. Basically it means be prepared for everything, buster. MS: What is your code? Can you give an example? Ruby: You want an example? So here you go, buster, nsyq ltszsjyk wvy ptrwayoe. It’s called a vigenere code, in other words a substitution code (you might want to look it up). You’ll be needing the key though, and the key comes in the form of a word, and your first job is to find that word. Ok, I’ll give you a break, the key word is DOUBLE. Now all you gotta do is unlock it! MS: Thanks, Ruby! We’re on the case! 37
oems can be silly, serious, or fun, just like kids! Whether itâ€™s the sing-song rhythm of a limerick, the serendipitous magic of a found poem, the deceptive simplicity of a haiku, or the easy familiarity of an acrostic poem, children are charmed by poetry. And whatâ€™s more fun than reading poetry? Writing it! In Explore Poetry! With 25 Great Projects children have fun learning about different forms of poetry while delving into different literary techniques such as personification, metaphor, and alliteration, all of which are discussed in a simple and accessible way. Activities include creative writing exercises designed to reinforce language arts skills, plus art projects that encourage children to visualize concepts and definitions. Short biographies of important poets reinforce the concept of poetry as an important part of society. Explore Poetry! by Andi Diehn Bryan Stone (illustrator) www.andidiehn.com Nomad Press 38
nonfiction Ages 6-9
Miss Patch’s Learn-to-Sew Book by Carolyn Meyer, Mary Suzuki (illustrator) www.readcarolyn.com Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ewing is a skill that’s both fun and functional, and there’s no better way to get started than with jolly Miss Patch! She learns how to thread a needle, cut patterns, and sew a fine seam by hand. With the help of Miss Patch, and the book’s many diagrams and amusing drawings, beginning sewists can learn to make a pillow, a bag, a patchwork quilt, an apron, and even simple clothes. Originally published in 1969, this is a timeless introduction to the pleasures of sewing.
The Lunch Witch, #1 by Deb Lucke www.deblucke.com Papercutz
or generations and generations, the women of Grunhilda’s family have stirred up trouble in a big, black pot. Grunhilda inherits her famous ancestors’ recipes and cauldron, but no one believes in magic anymore. Despite the fact that Grunhilda’s only useful skill is cooking up potfuls of foul brew, she finds a job listing that might suit her: lunch lady. She delights in scaring the kids until she meets a timid little girl named Madison with a big set of glasses who becomes an unlikely friend. Madison needs help at school and at home, but helping people goes against everything Grunhilda believes in as a witch! Will this girl be able to thaw the Lunch Witch’s icy heart? Or will Grunhilda turn her back on a kindred spirit?
The Celestine Chronicles
“A swift and compelling epic that readers of high fantasy will love!” —Tony Abbott, author of The Secrets of Droon Available at
“An amazing world with characters so real, they could walk through the door, and you’d feel like you’d known them forever.” —Bookworm for Kids Available at
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE TRAILER
BOOK SHELF Quackers Wants to Fly by Susan Wolff
uackers is a loveable duckling who has a wish: He wants to fly. He wants to be like the big ducks at the pond. Quackers asks his friends for help. Along the way, Quackers learns about patience and the power of never giving up. Join Quackers on his exciting journey. At the end, children will cheer and adults will smile. www.friendsatthepond.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and High Hill Press. 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.
The Cemetery Sleeper by Susan Griner
fter Freddy Pesterfield wakes up in a cemetery one night he desperately searches for a way to ward off the ghost who lured him there. When his remedies fail, Freddy looks into the history of the ghost who haunts him and unearths disturbing family secrets. Can his discovery keep him from sleepwalking to the cemetery one last time? www.susangriner.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, and Saguaro Books.
Promote your book in Shelf Unbound in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Shelf Unbound 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 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.
[Our] mission [is] to bring the joy of comics to a new generation of kids.
How Andrews McMeel got started.
Acting on their long-held dream of starting their own newspaper syndicate, Jim Andrews and John McMeel founded Universal Press Syndicate in 1970. Garry Trudeau’s Pulitzer Prize–winning comic strip, Doonesbury, catapulted it into the leadership of newspaper syndication. Andrews McMeel Publishing grew naturally from that business, and in 1997, the company became Andrews McMeel Universal and is the home to such greats as The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, Big Nate, and many others. AMP! Comics for Kids began in Fall 2012, its mission to bring the joy of comics to a new generation of kids. 44
The people behind the books.
With President Kirsty Melville at the helm of the book division, AMP! is now a leading publisher in cookbooks, puzzles and games, children’s books, and more. Andrea Colvin heads up AMP’s editorial department and is the driving force behind our burgeoning AMP! kids line. Lynne McAdoo has built solid relationships in every aspect of the book market in her almost two decades with the company. Kathy Hilliard has been with the company for more than two decades, and has worked
to turn many of our properties into bestsellers, from Calvin & Hobbes to The Oatmeal.
What makes Andrews McMeel special.
Along with its rich history, a sense of family is what makes Andrews McMeel a special place. John McMeel is in the office almost every day, and Jim Andrews’ son Hugh carries on his father’s legacy, serving as a guiding force as CEO for almost a decade.
New and upcoming middle grade releases.
This spring brings a bevy of Big Nate from creator Lincoln Peirce with Big Nate’s Greatest Hits, a compilation of three ebook-only collections in
one supersized paperback (January); The Complete Big Nate in ebook format features the entire body of Big Nate comic strips ever published in newspapers (February); Big Nate: Say Goodbye to Dork City is the next paperback collection (March). The G-Man Super Journal: Awesome Origins is the first in an illustrated-novel series based on Chris Giarrusso’s popular graphic novels. Set in a world filled with superheroes, regularkid Michael G has only his wits to battle overbearing teachers and bullying older brothers as he vies for superpowers of his own (February). In Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue by Page Braddock, Cecil the toad rallies his pals to save their pond from a freeway construction project (February); The Alien Invasion in My Backyard: An EMU Club Adventure by Ruben Bolling features two friends and one pesky little sister whose mystery-solving club investigates strange goings-on with the family dog in the first book in this new series (April); Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz, the fourth collection of Peanuts strips in the AMP! line features that famous little yellow bird (April).
books to check out
Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue by Paige Braddock Ages 7-12
ecil is a toad busy doing what any other toad does with its days—judging the pond splashing contest, visiting his friends, and trying to keep clear of the local hawk. But when Cecil discovers a freeway construction project aimed right at the pond, he knows he has to come up with a plan to save his home. But what can a small group of amphibians and a reincarnating fly do against construction vehicles and a steady onslaught of hot asphalt? Cecil isn’t sure, but he knows they have to try.
The G-Man Super Journal: Awesome Origins by Chris Giarrusso Ages 7-12
hen Michael G has to keep a journal in Mrs. Rosario’s class at school, naturally he writes about his ambition to have superpowers and join the superheroes of his city in the fight for justice. After all, his friend Billy Demon just got an awesome winged flying suit and superpowers of his own, and now he’s the most popular kid in school! Mikey would just love to have superpowers too, but how will he get them? And if he does get them, what will he do with them?
of the book blogs Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen Henry Holt & Co. Review by
THE BOOK MONSTERS
retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I found Beastkeeper to be an enchanting novel about a young girl who just wants her family back. There’s a glimmer of her own romance, something sweet and innocent, along with the harsh reality of how this curse has changed her whole family for the worse. I loved that this follows a role reversal for the original tale, transforming Sarah into the beast that usually is kept for male roles. She’s a strong character and keeps her family at the forefront of her mind, even when she falls in love and becomes a beast herself. Sarah’s determination remains strong, even
when she fails and I really enjoyed seeing a character that kept at it, through the thick of it all. I loved the magical feel of the writing and the setting was gorgeous, dark when need be and enchanting at the same time. Hellisen blends together a world that at first seems more magical realism and stretches the imagination, pushing her main character into a world that is dark and swirling with its own magic. Verdict: A strong retelling, with enough twists from the original to give it a fresh voice and a new audience.
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 46
ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE JUNIPER’S JUNGLE NAYU’S READING CORNER
MUNDIE KIDS ONE LIBRARIAN’S BOOK REVIEWS AKOSSIWA KETOGLO
No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones Hot Key Books Review by
MIDDLE GRADE STRIKES BACK
he first few chapters of this book introduce us to the main players, and begin to introduce us to the slightly odd world in which it’s set. Much of this world feels familiar, the characters’ daily lives include the same activities as ours, yet there’s an unshakeable feeling that there’s something not quite right. The further you get into the book the more this feeling of not-rightness grows. When the pieces slowly started to fall into place, I found myself wanting to read faster and faster, eager for the next bit to slot into the plot. It’s a completely gripping read, though a confusing one—it’s full of time travel and time loops. These are
Ages 8-12 explained as well as any such things can be, but I needed to read some passages a couple of times to [understand] what was going on. The book poses some really interesting questions about morality—about science and about whether we should pursue advancement simply because we can. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has a constant presence in this book and encourages the reader (like the characters) to consider that story in these terms. This book also has some really interesting things to say about stories, and about whether any story is set in stone once its final form is produced. This is a highly enjoyable, thought provoking read.
>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE STACKED THAT’S ANOTHER STORY
WONDROUS READS RAMBLINGS OF A WANNABE SCRIBE SO I’M FIFTY 47
Random Body Parts by Leslie Bulion Mike Lowery (illustrator) Peachtree Publishers www.lesliebulion.com
Whispered waves echo echo echo into a funnel into a tunnel where the head of a drum stretches and vibrates, hitting the handle of a delicate hammer that knocknocknocks on an elfin anvil that rattles a slender stirrup against the tissue-thin dam of a spiraling, inner sea whose watery surges bend bristly bundles that send a series of signals to decipher the secret.
Three boats sail Along the river of life— A sticky situation.
A breach in the river— Long boats glide in, then stay, Lining the shore.
A breath of wind Where rivulets bend. Hoist the red sails!
One river With many tributaries All shores are met.
Many white sails gather. Something wicked this way comes— En garde!
Excerpt from Random Body Parts by Leslie Bulion. Copyright 2015. Reprinted with permission from Peachtree Publishers.
All this talk of mummies, and forgeries, was feeding her already active imagination. —From The Mummies Curse: Case 4 of The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner
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contributors AXELROD, AMY Amy studied at both Brandeis and Columbia Universities, and has written many picture books, including the best-selling Pigs Will be Pigs Math series. Her debut novel for middle-grade readers, Your Friend in Fashion, Abby Shapiro, was published in 2011.
CHILD, LAUREN Lauren Child is the author of the award-winning Clarice Bean chapter book series, where the character of Ruby Redfort was first introduced. Lauren Child has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. She lives in London.
AXELROD, DAVID David Axelrod, Amy’s son, grew up in the Hudson Valley in a house built in 1729. He has written several critically acclaimed books for young adults under pseudonyms and currently works in book publishing. David lives in New York City with his wife.
JACOBSON, JENNIFER RICHARD Jennifer Richard Jacobson is the author of several books for children and young adult readers, including the Andy Shane early chapter books, illustrated by Abby Carter, and Small as an Elephant. She lives in Cumberland, Maine.
BAJAJ, VARSHA Varsha Bajaj is the author of several books for children including How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? and T is for Taj Mahal. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood is her first middle grade novel. BOURNE, KATE Kate Bourne, co-creator of the blog “The Book Monsters,” is a twenty-something-year-old who is passionate about reading. She currently holds a B.A. in English and is married to her high school sweetheart. Kate previously blogged at “The Neverending Shelf.” BULION, LESLIE Leslie is the author of more than eight books for children. She studied oceanography and worked as a social worker. A trip to East Africa in 1998 inspired her first book, Fatuma’s New Cloth, and she has been writing ever since.
cool reads for cool kids.
KIBBEE, KRISTINE Kristine is a Pacific Northwest native with a love of language, nature, and animals. She earned a degree in Humanities with a focus in Professional Writing at Washington State University and has since had many works published. MCCLURE, BEVERLY STOWE Also known as “the Bug Lady” for saving insects from her cat, Beverly graduated cum laude from Midwestern State University and spent twentytwo years teaching children to read and write. She enjoys playing piano and living in the country. MORA, ELSA Cuban native and graduate of The Professional School of Visual Arts, Elsa’s preferred artistic medium is paper. Her paper sculptures have been featured in many books, including K.E. Ormsbee’s The Water and the Wild, and her website, “Art is a Way.”
contributors NOCK, JENNI A lover of virtually every genre going, Jenni’s been blogging about books for nearly 10 years. She currently blogs and vlogs at “Juniper’s Jungle” and is a regular contributor to “Middle Grade Strikes Back.” STRATFORD, JORDAN Jordan is a producer, author, and screenwriter. He lives on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada with his wife and children and is hard at work on the next book in the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series. TRINE, GREG Greg is the author of the Adventures of Jo Schmo series and the Melvin Beederman, Superhero series. He lives with his family in Ventura, California. TURNER, JACCI Jacci lives with her husband in Nevada’s high desert. They spend their mornings hiking through the sagebrush with their big yellow dog, Rocky. She’s worn many hats in her lifetime: therapist, school counselor, campus minister, writer, mom, and grandmother. WOODRUM, ELIZABETH Elizabeth has been a teacher for twelve years. The Maisy Files, a children’s series, is the first series that she has published. Originally from Indiana, Elizabeth currently lives in Ohio with her two pets: a cat named Butterscotch and a dog named Reese Cup.
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cool reads for cool kids.