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MAY/JUNE 2015

FEATURING

JACK ANDRAKA SOPHIE BLACKALL MATT NADEL

Inside Month9Books Stand-Out Sports A Chat with Nick and Tesla


$1,500 IN PRIZES! ANNOUNCING

COMPETITION

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 $500 and 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.

THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRY IS MIDNIGHT ON AUGUST 1, 2015. DETAILS AND RULES CAN BE FOUND HERE


staff

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COOL READS FOR KIDS


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and


may/june 2015

contents

DEPARTMENTS

6

jack andraka interview with award-winning teen scientist and author of Breakthrough

10

matt nadel interview with teen author of Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers

12 miriam spitzer franklin interview with the author of Extraordinary 30 under the covers with sophie blackall, illustrator of Nightbird 40

character spotlight an interview with Nick & Tesla

4

a word from the editor

14

themed books: stand-out sports

18

common core pick

20

cool reads for cool kids

28

jem & lara’s reviews

38

on our shelf

42 novelty 43

non-fiction

44

graphic novel

48

publisher’s corner

50

best of the book blogs

52

poetry

54

last words

56

contributors

On the cover: Illustration by Sophie Blackall from Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Images from The Big Cowhuna by Mike Litwin and Nick and Tesla’s Spectacular Effects Spectacular by Cat Steve Hockensmith & Bob Pflugfelder


a word from the

editor

S

ummer is just around the corner, which for me means trips to the beach, barbecuing in the back yard, and extra time for reading. For many of you, summer also means more time to play baseball, or soccer, or basketball. Fortunately, we don’t always have to wait for warm weather to enjoy our favorite sports, which is why this issue of Middle Shelf highlights sports for all seasons. To kick off this issue, 16-year-old blogger and baseball enthusiast Matt Nadel talks about his debut book Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History. Next, our themed section introduces eight new novels, each centered around a different sport, such as ice skating, wrestling, and even skateboarding. And don’t miss the spotlight on graphic novel Roller Girl. Middle Shelf also welcomes a very special guest, award-winning teen author and scientist Jack Andraka, who invented an early detection system for diagnosing certain types of cancer. He shares his experiences in his book, Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World. In addition, Sophie Blackall takes us on a tour of how she created the cover for Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird. And I can’t forget to introduce our newest book reviewer, 12-year-old Jem Burch. Jem debuts with a review of The Penderwicks in Spring, the fourth book in Jeanne Birdsall’s series. As always, we have a spectacular selection of excerpts, interviews, and reviews—all aimed at helping you discover a book just perfect for reading on the beach, the bleachers, or in bed. 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

4

MAY/JUNE 2015


ds! h Frien t i w t ec Conn eviews! R e r a Sh

“Bookopolis is a great tool for engaging students and motivating them to read more.” —Ms. Burkett, 6th grade teacher

Recomm end Bo oks! Earn Po ints! k

“This site is #AWESOMESAUCE” —Brady, 5th grader

“I love that your site gives me suggestions on which books would be good for me. I especially enjoy the badges you get when you reach a certain amount of points.” —Hailey, 3rd grader

bookopolis.com


feature

author interview

Jack Andraka At the age of fifteen, Jack Andraka invented a four-cent strip of paper capable of detecting pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers four hundred times more effectively than the previous standard. Jack’s memoir empowers his generation with the knowledge that we can each change the world if we only have the courage to try.

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Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World by Jack Andraka, with Matthew Lysiak HarperCollins www.jackandraka.net

Ages 10+


Middle Shelf: Hi Jack. Your story is so inspiring. At 15, you invented a new way to detect cancer. What was your motivation? Jack Andraka: When I was in middle school, a close family friend who was like an uncle to me, passed away from pancreatic cancer. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was! It was so sad and scary that I turned to the internet to learn more about the disease. I was shocked to learn that a lot of people die because the cancer isn’t detected early when it is easier to cure. That motivated me to try to develop a better way to detect pancreatic cancer. MS: You have received some amazing awards and recognitions as a result. Tell us a little about them and what they’ve meant to you? Andraka: My childhood dream was to be able to go the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I attended as an observer when my big brother went, and I couldn’t stop thinking about all the great projects and the winners on stage. You can imagine the thrill when I not only got

to compete in this competition but actually won and stood on the stage with the confetti streaming down on me. I couldn’t help crying—it was just so overwhelming! It was very cool to be awarded a Smithsonian American Ingenuity award in the same group as Elon Musk—an inspirational innovator. I was invited to the State of the Union Address and the White House Science Fair and was able to discuss my project with President Obama and hugged Mrs. Obama. I was proud to be awarded the Samuel Beard/Jefferson award for raising awareness for pancreatic cancer, and now I’m working on nanorobots through a grant from National Geographic Emerging Explorers. MS: When/how did your interest in science begin? Andraka: When I was small, I asked a lot of questions. So my mom taught me really basic scientific method principles so I could start figuring out my own answers and stop bothering her with endless questions! I liked to build dams a lot and figure out why the water was acting 7


how it did. I also experimented with glow- about what you are passionate about ing bacteria and how they could detect and think about how you could solve a water pollutants. problem. Access to knowledge is there on the internet—barriers to learning because MS: As a teen, what else do you enjoy of race, gender, or class are decreasing, doing besides discovering break- which is great—the more minds working throughs in science? on our problems, the better! Andraka: I love to whitewater kayak and used to be on the national team until MS: What advice can you give young my life got too busy to train. I still enjoy innovators like yourself? running rivers like the Youghiogheny in Andraka: Interesting solutions to comPennsylvania and the Cheat and Gauley plex problems can be found at the interin West Virginia. I’m on the varsity swim section of different fields, so read widely team and love hanging out with my team and give yourself time to think. When mates so much. you get an idea, write it down in an idea journal and come back to your idea later, MS: What has been the most exciting when you may have learned more or can part of being famous? The hardest? make better connections in your mind. Andraka: The best part of being well Tear your own idea apart and try to find known is [being able] to meet and be weaknesses before you start testing to inspired by successful scientists, innova- save time and…love your project—you’ll tors, and politicians. The hard part is hav- be spending lots of time with it, so it helps ing to balance school, working in the lab, to feel passionate about it! and travelling. Sometimes I miss school events like spring varsity team awards, MS: What are your goals for the future? and sometimes I can’t make an event Andraka: I look forward to figuring out because of standardized tests. It’s defi- where I want to go to college and what I nitely a balancing act! will study once I’m there. I think right now that bioengineering and medical school MS: What do you hope your book will would be such an exciting trajectory, and achieve? I’m also really interested in public policy Andraka: What I hope Breakthrough will and public health. I also want to develop achieve the most is to inspire other kids my cancer sensor, work on nanorobots, to innovate and solve problems in their and create a better water quality sensor own communities. Kids have such energy, optimism, and desire to improve the world. With the internet, kids can learn and connect with others working on the same Click here to download problems. You don’t have to be a person the Educator Reader’s Guide with a lot of fancy degrees to learn more to Breakthrough! 8

MAY/JUNE 2015


COMING JUNE 25TH

“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! Pre-order now at

www.skyrocketpress.com 9


feature

author interview

Matt Nadel Sixteen-year-old Matt Nadel is burning up MLB.com and the broader baseball community with his baseball history blog. Now he has finished his first book, an A-to-Z compendium of the best players and teams, the greatest victories, and the most exciting events in the history of the game.  Jam-packed with tons of stats and quick facts, and it features over 50 iconic photographs from the archives of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Associated Press. Middle Shelf: Hi Matt. How did you become such an expert in baseball history? Matt Nadel: I started reading biographies about the all-time great ballplayers when I was around nine years old, and from there my interest kept on growing. For about five

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Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History by Matt Nadel Summer Game Books www.baseballwithmatt.blogspot.com

All Ages


years after I read those bios I would only read baseball history-related books. So my knowledge of baseball history comes from years of studying and consistent interest in the subject. MS: Do you have a favorite team? Player? Nadel: I’m a huge Yankee fan, but my favorite player of all time is Phillies’ Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. He has a great mix of power and fielding prowess and he also has a great mustache. MS: Do you play baseball yourself? Nadel: I play for my school, Golda Och Academy’s high school varsity team. I’m an outfielder, and I really love catching fly balls. MS: If you could travel back in time to attend any historical game, which would it be and why? Nadel: I think that I would definitely travel to Toronto to witness Joe Carter’s walkoff World Series-winning home run for the Blue Jays in 1993. I really want to be a part of that celebrating and excited crowd after the homer was hit.

should know about the game. My blog has that and then some obscure stuff.

MS: What’s the best part about getting a book published? Nadel: I really enjoy getting compliments by fans who I’ve never met before. Sure, it’s awesome to be congratulated about my success by my friends, but it’s really special to me that someone randomly found my book and really liked it. At my last book signing in New York City at the MS: Tell us about your book. Nadel: It’s an alphabet book about base- Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, a kid who ball history. I loved reading alphabet books was about seven years old came up to as a kid, especially those by Jerry Pal- me and told me that he really loved the lotta. There are 26 chapters, one for each book and asked me to sign it. That was letter in the alphabet, and each chapter really heart-warming. discusses a famous player, team, place or event in baseball history. I wrote it for basi- MS: What are your plans for the future? cally the same reason I started the blog: Nadel: I want to major in communications to educate people about baseball history. in college so I can become a broadcaster. However, the difference is that my book But if I don’t end up doing that, I want to covers everything a new fan to baseball stay involved in baseball and the MLB. 11


feature

debut author interview

Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Sky Pony Press www.miriamfranklin.com/new

Ages 8-12

Last spring, Pansy chickened out on going to sleepaway camp, even though she’d promised her best friend, Anna, she’d go. While at camp, Anna contracted meningitis and a dangerously high fever, and she hasn’t been the same since. So when Pansy discovers that Anna is getting a surgery that might cure her, she  knows she’s been given the chance she’s been waiting for—a chance to get Anna back, by finally facing her fears and becoming extraordinary, the kind of best friend Anna deserves. Middle Shelf: What inspired you to write about Pansy & Anna’s unique friendship? Miriam Spitzer Franklin: When she was two, my niece, Anna, suffered a sudden high fever [causing] a stroke and a brain 12

MAY/JUNE 2015


injury, which changed her life and her family’s life forever. But I’ve always been amazed and inspired by the way her family accepted the challenges and focused on the joy that Anna brought to everyone. Even though their hopes and dreams for her had changed, they adjusted and learned that living with a child with severe special needs can be a gift that makes you view the world in a different way. My story is about learning to accept difficult changes in life, and that ultimately this could be a hopeful and triumphant story as Anna continues to inspire her best friend. Pansy is a person who perseveres despite challenges, and is full of heart. I wanted to create a character that others will want to could do while my children were in school. cheer for, regardless of her mistakes. I’ve found many wonderful students to work with over the last few years and love MS: How did you react when you sold having the flexibility to design my own your book? lessons. I have also been coaching an Franklin: I screamed. Out loud, all by Odyssey of the Mind team, made up of my myself in my house as I stared at the public schooled daughter and some very computer. And then I stared at the com- creative homeschoolers! puter for a long time, to make sure the e-mail from my agent was real. It’s been a MS: What advice can you give kids who long journey, and I really couldn’t believe want to be authors? that Extraordinary, the book I’d written Franklin: Read, read, and read some and rewritten for years, was finally going more! All the best writers are readers to find a place on the shelf! first. Collect ideas in notebooks, so when an idea pops into your head you won’t MS: As a former school teacher, why did forget. Draw characters and settings so you start teaching homeschool classes? you can picture them. Brainstorm details Franklin: Although I taught full-time in about your characters so you know them public school for eleven years, once I well, inside and out. Trust your imaginahad children, I realized I couldn’t manage tion, and write as much and as often as the demands of full-time teaching and you can. Listen carefully to feedback that raising children. I started offering tutor- others give you about your story, and be ing and writing classes to homeschooled prepared to rewrite as many times as it students because this was something I takes to get it right! 13


STAND-OUT SPORTS

themed books:

There Goes Ted Williams by Matt Tavares Candlewick www.matttavares.com [Video Link]

Ages 8-12

T

ed Williams lived a life of dedication and passion. He was an ordinary kid who wanted one thing: to hit a baseball better than anyone else. So he practiced his swing every chance he got. He did fingertip push-ups. He ate a lot of food. He practiced his swing again. And then practiced it some more. From his days playing ball in North Park as a kid to his unmatched .406 season in 1941 to his heroic tours of duty as a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, the story of Teddy Ballgame is the story of an American hero.

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The Only Game by Mike Lupica Simon & Schuster www.mikelupicabooks.com [Video Link]

Ages 8-12

J

ack Callahan is the star of his baseball team and sixth grade is supposed to be his year. Undefeated season. Records shattered. Little League World Series. The works. That is, until he up and quits. Jack’s best friend Gus can’t understand how Jack could leave a game that means more to them than anything else. But Jack is done. It’s a year of change. Jack’s brother has passed away, and though his family and friends and the whole town of Walton thinks baseball is just the thing he needs to move on, Jack feels it’s anything but. With the support of his family and friends, Jack discovers sometimes it’s more than just the love of the game that keeps us moving—and he might just be able to find his way back to The Only Game.


STAND-OUT SPORTS Slump

The Sinkhole

by Kevin Waltman

by Brad V. Cowan Orca www.lorimer.ca

Cinco Puntos Press www.kevinwaltman.com

Ages 12+

D

errick Bowen’s sophomore year is a grind. He’s been looking forward to the basketball season all summer, but his girlfriend Jasmine leaves him for putting too much focus on basketball. The promise his Marion East basketball team showed at the end of last season isn’t materializing. And the sweet jumper D-Bow worked on all summer just isn’t falling. When Derrick’s father is severely injured in a car crash, Derrick is faced with a new reality where basketball can’t be his only priority.

Ages 8-12

W

ith the arrival of a mysterious letter from Cale’s estranged father, what looked to be a dull, hot summer becomes an exciting adventure for the Seven Stair Crew! A series of clues sends the boys on a quest to find “The Empire,” four supersecret skateboard sites with some of the most thrilling setups around. Even Toby, the clumsy Crew wannabe, gets pulled into the action, despite objections from some of the others. But for Cale, it turns out that the quest for the Empire isn’t just about skateboarding. It’s also a personal journey of discovery about his own character and the dad he never knew.

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STAND-OUT SPORTS

themed books:

Bench Brawl

Breaking the Ice

by Trevor Kew

by Gail Nall

Orca www.lorimer.ca

Aladdin www.gailnall.com

Ages 8-12

Ages 9-13

T

he Helmets and the Gloves have been crosstown rink rivals forever, so when the league decides to merge the two teams to represent their small town at a big invitational hockey tournament in Vancouver, Luke and his friends are furious. To make matters worse, the coach responsible for the merger is Luke’s own father! Nothing is going right for the newly formed Great River Vikings. They seem to be more willing to fight themselves than their opponents. It will take an outsider to teach the locals the meaning of sportsmanship and what it means to be winners.

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K

aitlin has always dreamed of being a champion figure skater, and she’s given up a lot to pursue her passion. But after she has a totally uncharacteristic tantrum at a major competition, she’s dropped by her coach and her prestigious skating club. When no other club will have her, she’s forced to join the ridiculed and run-down Fallton Club, jokingly referred to as the “Fall Down Club.” At first Kaitlin thinks this is a complete disaster, but after meeting some of the other skaters—including a boy who happens to have the most perfect hair she’s ever seen— she realizes it might not actually be so bad. Yet learning a whole new program right before regionals is a huge challenge, and when she realizes that all the other area skaters target Fallton for pranks, she begins to wonder if joining the Fall Down Club has any upsides.


STAND-OUT SPORTS Heavy Weight Takedown by Jake Maddox Capstone Press www.capstonepub.com

Ages 9-12

K

yle is the star of his junior high wrestling team’s A squad. Not only does he win most of his matches, but he’s also the heavyweight...the wrestler that gets to go last in a tournament and hopefully clinch the victory for the team. So when a new kid, Kenny, shows up and challenges Kyle for the heavyweight spot (and wins it), Kyle’s confidence shrinks. Now on the B squad, Kyle is frustrated. He wants his team to do well, and Kenny is a good wrestler. But Kyle also wants to be on the A squad. Can Kyle come up with a way to help his team?

The Kicks: Hat Trick by Alex Morgan Simon & Schuster www.alexmorgansoccer.com

Ages 8-12

N

ow that playoffs are over, the Kicks won’t be playing together again until the spring. But soccercrazy Devin can’t imagine a life without soccer! She and her friends decide to try out for a travel team in a very competitive local league, but not everyone makes the cut. Meanwhile, Devin’s little sister, Maisie, wants to try out for her elementary school’s soccer program. But due to budget cuts, the program has been eliminated! The Kicks rally together to help raise money— and volunteer to help with four different projects on the same day! Things get hectic as the girls deal with being on the competitive, tougher team; figuring out how to keep their friendships together as they all go in different directions; and trying to save the elementary school’s soccer program. If they can pull off all three, it will be a true hat trick! 17


Language Arts Character Education Social Studies (Canada) DIVERSITY IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE Middle Shelf’s Common Core Pick

Grades 6-8

I

Wisdom from our First Nations First Nations Series for Young Readers by Kimberly Sigafus and Lyle Ernst Second Story Press www.secondstorypress.ca 18

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n indigenous cultures, elders serve as a bridge across time: they are connected to the past, they live in the present and they offer wisdom for the future. In these fascinating biographical essays, twelve First Nation and Native American elders share stories from their lives and tell what it was like to live in a time before television, cell phones and video games. Their stories explain how their humble childhoods shaped the adults they became and the lessons they share as elders. All the elders profiled work to ensure that their Native culture is passed down to members of their tribe. Settle in with this book and “listen” to the stories of these elders’ lives. As you take in their history, you just might gain wisdom that could make a difference in your own life.


“One of the most fun books that I have reviewed yet!” —Marie Thompson, Paradox Wrapped Up in an Enigma blog

For fans of Percy Jackson & The Ranger’s Apprentice.

Available at www.skyrocketpress.com


excerpts

COOL READS FOR

1

2

3

HISTORICAL

MYSTERY

HUMOR 20

MAY/JUNE 2015

COOL

KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.

4

5

CONTEMPORARY

SCIENCE FICTION

6

FANTASY


1

historical

Ages 8-12 Like A River: A Civil War Novel by Kathy Cannon Wiechman Highlights Press | www.kathycannonwiechman.com

“T

hat a river beyond that field?” Leander asked. “The Coosa,” answered the soldier. “Coosa,” Leander repeated. He had never heard of it, but he liked the sound. Even the name felt like a breeze. He walked to the field that stood between him and the river. The white specks on the plants weren’t flowers at all, but cotton. It was the first cotton field he had ever seen. Easing along the field, he found an opening, a path through the plants. He looked back at the house, at the soldier filling water buckets. He thought of the hospital’s smell and knew he had to follow the path, if only to find clean river air to breathe. He could do it. He was strong enough now. The path led him to the riverbank, where the flow of water meandered a mere stone’s throw away. The current didn’t look swift, and the temptation to cool himself took hold. An aged sycamore stood guard beside the water’s edge, where the river had left obvious signs of its comings and goings. The sycamore’s naked roots reached out over the water, and made a perfect place for Leander to grab hold, in case the current was too swift for a one-armed soldier. He looked back toward the house again. Above the tops of the cotton plants, he could barely see its roof. His one hand fumbled with buttons as he stripped down to his drawers and tucked his clothes and shoes in the crook of a sycamore branch. He waded

into the water, holding fast to a strong sycamore root. The cold water startled him at first, but he eased deeper, letting the water slither up his legs to his waist. With his next step, the river bottom disappeared in a sudden drop-off, and before he could find his balance, a fierce tug pulled the root from his grasp. LIKE A RIVER: A CIVIL WAR NOVEL. Copyright © 2015 by Kathy Cannon Wiechman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Highlights Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21


2

mystery

Ages 9-14 Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman Henry Holt & Company | www.jenniferchamblissbertman.com

T

he moving van slowed to a stop in front of a building Emily recognized from the rental website. The new house was taller than it was wide, as if it held its breath to squeeze between the neighboring homes. “Definitely need the emergency brake for this street,” her dad said, shoving the brake pedal down with his foot. “You ready?” Emily glanced at the clock. One minute to go until Mrs. Griswold’s announcement. Her dad tapped his temple, his shorthand for I can read your mind. “I’ll leave the radio on. I know you don’t want to miss anything,” he said. He swung open his door with a creak and jumped to the pavement, joining the rest of their family on the sidewalk. Emily’s mom dug through her purse, the hem of her patchwork sundress chasing itself around her ankles in the breeze. Matthew shuffled in a circle, one hand shielding his eyes from the sun as he took in his new surroundings. His off-center Mohawk could make you do a double take, thinking he was tilting his head when he really wasn’t. Her brother couldn’t care less that they were moving again. He never cared. Matthew attracted friends like a rainbow attracts leprechauns. And it never bothered him to leave them behind, either. He saw it as building a fan base for his future as World-Famous Rock Star. The mention of “Griswold” drew Emily’s attention back to the radio. The DJ

was saying, “We’ve got a Foghead calling in from the event, and they’re saying so far Griswold is a no-show.” “A no-show?” Emily asked the radio. “You there, caller?” the DJ asked. A woman’s voice said, “Yeah, I’m here at the library, but we haven’t seen a glimpse of him.” BOOK SCAVENGER. Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Henry Holt & Company.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 22

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3

humor

Ages 7-10 The Big Cowhuna by Mike Litwin Albert Whitman & Company | www.mikelitwin.com

C

huck reviewed his Collection of Weird Things displayed in a wooden tray on his clothes dresser. ... The trinkets in Chuck’s collection were nowhere near as impressive as the ones in Cornelius’s book. Chuck was disappointed that the most interesting trinkets—the stuff he and Dakota had found on their adventures—were missing from the set. Monstrous costumes, magic hornpipes, coral crowns...those things always seemed to get lost, broken, or claimed by their rightful owners. This impossible purple shell would definitely be the “Big Cowhuna” of his collection. Chuck put the shell up to his ear again. “Listen! I can still hear the ocean!” Dakota folded his arms. “It’s not really the ocean, you know,” he said with his eyes closed. “It’s air echoing inside the empty shell. Everyone knows that. It just sounds like the ocean.” “Oh yeah?” Chuck said. “Complete with seagulls and everything?” Dakota’s eyes fluttered open. “What? Give me that,” he said, taking the shell from Chuck’s hooves. He held it up to his ear. Sure enough, he heard more than just the dull roar of air in an empty shell. He heard loud crashing waves, gusts of wind, and the familiar cawing of seagulls. He could even smell the salty spray of the sea. Dakota pulled the shell away from his face. “That’s...that’s impossible,” he stammered. “No, it’s incredible!” Chuck said firmly.

“It’s kind of like the shell is alive.” The hair on Dakota’s neck stood up. He too had felt like the shell was alive when Chuck first picked it up off the beach. But the very idea seemed so silly that he wasn’t about to admit it. “Oh, sure. It’s alive,” Dakota joked, rolling his eyes. He knocked on the shell three times and shouted into the open end. “Helloooooo in theeeeerrre!” THE BIG COWHUNA. Copyright © 2015 by Mike Litwin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Albert Whitman & Company.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23


4

contemporary

Ages 8-12 My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando Running Press Book Publishers | www.taraaltebrando.com |

T

he house where Mr. Depler lived was set pretty far back from the road, and the cows lived in an area away from his front door. The odds were in our favor that he’d never see us. His car was in the driveway, so he was home, which was less than ideal, but there was no point in backing out now. If we got caught, we got caught. So I said, “Time’s a wastin’. Come on.” Naveen and I abandoned our bikes on the side of the road, and took big strides down to the fenced-in area where the cows were hanging out, tails wagging lazily with their backs to us. It was a post fence, one you could slip through if you weren’t as big as a cow. I had my eye on a huge pile of cow turd that was easily within reach. I headed for it with the spatula in hand and slid it under—so gross! It actually squished—and lifted some into the bag that Naveen, also wearing gloves, was holding. “Man, that reeks,” he said. “Indeed it does. You think that’s enough?” I asked, studying what was left of the pile. A few flies were hovering, buzzing. “Should do the trick.” He looked around and I almost laughed at how serious he looked, though, of course, I was pretty serious about this mission, too. “Anyway, plenty more where that came from if you need it.” One of the cows mooed and we both jumped. While speed walking back toward our

bikes, I hurled the soiled spatula into the woods between Depler’s house and ours. I couldn’t imagine ever letting my mother flip an omelet with it again anyway. Stella was already on her bike when we got close to her and she took off, calling out, “I’ll text you later!” MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS. Copyright © 2015 by Tara Altebrando. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Running Press Book Publishers.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 24

MAY/JUNE 2015


5

science fiction

Ages 8-12 Lots of Bots (Robots Rule, Book 2) by C.J. Richards, Goro Fujita (illustrator) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | robotsrulebooks.com

“T

hat was close!” George said from the passenger seat, his heart pounding. “Lucky for us I have good reflexes,” Otto said. He was wearing his usual dingy work shirt and jeans, which were dotted with engine-oil stains. “With all these robot drivers nowadays, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one on the road with a real brain in my head.” “Yes, an archaic one,” muttered George’s personal robot, Jackbot, from the backseat. “Obsolete, outdated, old-school.” George snorted a laugh. “What was that, tin man?” growled Otto. “Nothing,” George said quickly. If Otto and Jackbot started going at it, they’d never get where they were going. “But have you ever considered that maybe it’s time we got a smartcar too? Everyone else has one.” Otto gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles went white. “You think I’d let a bunch of wires and batteries drive me around?” he said. “Ha! Not in a million years. Trust me, George. Robots aren’t the answer to every problem. I remember the days before all these tech geeks showed up—back when Terabyte Heights was just a little town called Termite Heights. Everything was so peaceful then . . .” As Otto droned on about the joys of prerobot life, George stared out the window and watched the town flash by. Goosebumps rose along his arms as he realized they were nearly at TinkerTech Headquarters. It was the first day of George’s apprenticeship, and

he still couldn’t quite believe it was happening. All his life he’d dreamed of working in the cutting-edge robotics workshop there, and today his dream was coming true. He’d be partnering with the greatest technological minds in the country, helping design robots that could think for themselves—just like he had with Jackbot. LOTS OF BOTS. Copyright © 2015 by C.J. Richards. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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fantasy

Ages 8-12 Some Kind of Magic by Adrian Fogelin Peachtree Publishers | www.adrianfogelin.com

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ass swung open the cupboard door. “Can you believe Ben’s little brother made two baskets with that hat over his eyes?” I stood at the sink and filled the water glasses, then let the water run cold over my wrists. “He got lucky, I guess.” “Lucky? Twice?” Cass set the dishes on the table and did a hocus-pocus thing with her hands. “Maybe it was the magic of the hat!” My grandmother handed Artie a cracker as she passed his chair. “What’re you talking about, Cass?” “Cody has this hat he says gives him powers.” “Oh, the hat.” My grandmother smiled and shook her head. “I just hope he don’t get himself run over with that magic hat down over his eyes.” Cass walked to the table with a fistful of silverware. “Too bad there’s no such thing as a magic hat. I’d use it to make this summer last forever.” “Good thing you don’t have a magic hat!” I said. “I’m ready for something new. Besides, there’s no such thing as magic, and definitely no such thing as a magic hat— unless your name is Harry Potter.” Nana set the potato salad bowl down with a thump. “Why not a magic hat? Magic can come from all kinds of strange places.” I turned toward my grandmother. “You don’t believe in magic, do you, Nana?” “Doesn’t matter what I believe. Question is, what does Cody Floyd believe?”

Cass sat down at the table. “He definitely believes in the power of the hat.” Knees bent, she hooked her heels over the edge of the seat. “But you know, Cody never hits the hoop, even when he’s looking right at it. Maybe it was the hat.” I turned to Cass. “There’s no such thing as magic hats or magic anything. And why would you want summer to last forever anyway?” SOME KIND OF MAGIC. Copyright © 2015 by Adrian Fogelin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 26

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find us on facebook

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JEM recommends Ages 8-12

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.

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The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

Random House Children’s Books www.jeannebirdsall.com [Review] The Penderwicks’ house is completely packed—what with Lydia, the new addition to the family, Skye and Jane’s large number of friends, and the two dogs Batty now looks after— and everyone is excited for friend and neighbor Nick Geiger to come home from war. Meanwhile, Batty discovers her amazing singing voice and plans to give a fantastic concert for her family on her birthday. But then, she hears a grave secret and becomes detached from her family, locking the secret deep inside her. This fourth book in the Penderwicks series takes place five years after the third one. Batty is now ten years old, and this story is written from her perspective. I could easily relate to her, especially after she learned the secret. This book has less action than the others, though at times I found Jeanne Birdsall’s writing chaotic and enjoyable. I would recommend it for fans of the other Penderwicks books.


LARA’S reads Ages 9-12

Genuine Sweet

by Faith Harkey

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt www.faithharkey.com [Review] A twelve-year-old girl has a magical power to grant any wish possible, except her own. But she really would like a few wishes. Genuine Sweet has some new friends who help her with her wishes. Then, her friends believe it is a good idea to go global with her newly found gift. With too many wishes to handle, Genuine finds a new wish that even she can’t grant. Genuine finds herself in a big predicament with a large puzzle to work her way through. Can she fix the problem? I thought this book was very interesting. The humor, sadness, heartwarming moments, and mystery made me want to read the book 24/7. This was a book full of mystery, magic, and everything you would want in a book. I really enjoyed it, and I bet you will too. I loved it so much I’m going to read it again. You should definitely read it.

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:

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UNDER THE

COVERS with Sophie Blackall www.sophieblackall.com

Sophie Blackall, illustrator for more than two dozen children’s books, was born in Australia and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Sophie recently created a series of posters for UNICEF to help fight Measles and Rubella in the Congo, and illustrated a teachers’ guide for the Rwandan Children’s Book Initiative, so she is not only a talented artist, but a humanitarian as well. Come with us Under the Covers as we talk with Sophie about her latest project, the cover of Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird.

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Nightbird by Alice Hoffman Random House Children’s Books Ages 10-13


The Measles and Rubella Initiative & The Rwandan Children’s Book Initiative [ VIDEO LINK ] 31


I grew up in Australia and pretty much always wanted to be an illustrator. When I was 12, I papered my bedroom walls with New Yorker covers and used my pocket money to buy vintage children’s books from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. I went to school for Visual Communication in Sydney, and emerged determined to be a painter—until I realized that my paintings were all narrative. They were essentially large illustrations. So I embraced illustration and am so happy to be living and working in the world of children’s books.

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What inspired Sophie’s design for Nightbird? The book! Alice Hoffman’s character, Twig, was so well described, and there were such evocative details throughout—black feathers and red moons and pink apples and inky skies. 33


I read the book in a sitting (couldn’t put it down!) and made a few different sketches, which I ran past the art director, Kate Gartner. Fortunately, we both liked the same one (doesn’t always happen that way)! We fiddled around with Twig a bit, making her elfin short hair look appealing and not too tomboyish. I worked with Chinese ink for the tone and layers of watercolor washes for color.

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I look at other artists’ work all the time for inspiration. Some of my favorites are Alice and Martin Provensen, Eric Ravilious, William Blake. Some contemporary illustrators I love are Peter Sis, Isabelle Arsenault, Carson Ellis. But my most immediate influence is from the four other artists and writers I share a studio with in Brooklyn: Brian Floca, Sergio Ruzzier, John Bemelmans Marciano, and Edward Hemingway. I have learned so much from working in their company, and I can’t imagine going back to working in isolation. In fact, we are planning our retirement home for illustrators. We’ll all have arthritis by then, so we’ll play Pictionary, drawing with our feet.

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I have illustrated 30 something books now, including picture books, the Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows, and Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found for grown-ups. Covers include When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. My latest picture book is A Fine Dessert, written by Emily Jenkins, and right now I’m working on a new series with my studio mate, John Bemelmans Marciano called The Witches of Benevento.

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

Available at

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

Available at

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

WWW.HELENSTRINGER.NET 37


on our shelf

Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale Scholastic

Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb, Eliza Wheeler (illustrator)

www.brucehale.com

Candlewick

W

www.triciaspringstubb.com

Ages 7-10

olfgang, the Big Bad Wolf, has been arrested for breaking into the homes of the three little pigs. He declares his innocence only to be tasked by the captain of the guard to prove it. Wolfgang’s cohort is the fourth little pig, Ferkel. Together the two of them romp across Fairylandia, uncovering the true stories behind kids’ favorite tales. Added bonuses include hilarious illustrations and chapter subheadings that will make kids giggle. The story is wonderfully told, and the tension is perfect for younger readers attempting their first mystery novel. The big reveal of who done it at the end will resonate with readers and hold a special place in their hearts. 38

MAY/JUNE 2015

Ages 7-10

F

or Cody, summer has so much potential. With a new neighbor to win over and a deaf cat named MewMew to hypnotize, it seems that not even her lovesick older brother can get her down! But she soon learns that not everything can be perfect. Her camp gets cancelled, her parents are consumed by their work, and worst of all, MewMew runs away! Cody learns to keep finding the silver lining of every situation—even if she has to create it herself—in order to find her very own fountain of happiness. Tricia Springstubb and Eliza Wheeler bring to life a cute new story of friendship and silliness.


Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Stage-Struck: Curtain Up by Lisa Fiedler and Anya Wallach

Random House Children’s Books

Sleeping Bear Press

Ages 10-13

www.alicehoffman.com

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ntil the new neighbors move in, it’s easy for Twig to keep the small town of Sidwell’s biggest secret. She, like the rest of her family, tends to keep to herself and quietly accepts the fate that a witch determined for her family over two hundred years ago. Finally branching out and becoming close with the family next door may seem to be just as sweet as her mother’s Pink apple pie, but Twig soon learns that history repeats itself when the curse upon her family once again stirs up trouble. Alice Hoffman fans will rejoice—her latest is yet another story that fits her perfectly curated collection of fantasies.

Ages 9-12

www.randomfarms.com

A

nya and Austin both love theater. Without any hopes of convincing their school to form a drama club, they decide to start one of their own. With the help of Anya’s younger sister, the kids set out to find the perfect location for their shows, recruit actors, sell tickets—every element necessary for a successful production. Based on the actual creation of Random Farms, a summer theater camp founded by Anya Wallach when she was sixteen years old which has started the careers of many young Broadway actors, StageStruck: Curtain Up is imaginative and inspiring! Just goes to show you don’t have to wait until you’re grown up to live your dreams. 39


character spotlight

Ages 9-12

Nick & Tesla’s by Steven Hockensmith and Bob Pflugfelder www.stevehockensmith.com

N

Quirk Books

ick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers topsecret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin.

By Lauren Child

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Middle Shelf: Hi Nick & Tesla! First off, how did you end up living with your Uncle Newt? Nick: Ooo, are we allowed to talk about that? Tesla: Why wouldn’t we be? Nick: There’s, like, spies and top-secret government science stuff. And we actually haven’t even figured everything out yet. So maybe we shouldn’t— Tesla: Our parents suddenly had to travel. We were sent to Half Moon Bay to live with Uncle Newt while they’re gone. End of story. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Nick: But that’s not the end of the story, and it is complicated, and— Tesla: Next question, please. MS: What have been the most unusual of your uncle’s inventions? Tesla: Definitely the compost thermal conversion units. Nick: Totally. They use body heat to break down compost, then they collect the energy that’s generated. Tesla: And we sleep on them every night. They’re our beds. Nick: Sometimes I’ll be lying there trying to fall asleep and I’ll feel this lump under my butt and I’ll say to myself, “I think that’s the macaroni we had for dinner.” Tesla: It inspires some interesting dreams, that’s for sure. MS: You two have had a lot of adventures together. Which have been your most challenging? Nick: All of them.

Tesla: The next one—and I can’t wait for it to begin! Nick: Ugh. Adventure is overrated. It’s really not that fun. Tesla: Yes, it is. Nick: Like I said. Ugh. MS: Do you ever disagree on anything? Tesla: Never! Nick: Always! MS: What is your newest book about? Nick: It’s called Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer and it’s about— Tesla: Not the newest book we’re reading. The newest book we’re in. Nick: Oh. Sorry. It’s called Nick and Tesla’s Special Effects Spectacular and it’s about— Tesla: Don’t forget the subtitle. Nick: Oh, geez. I can’t even remember it all. Tesla: It’s A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself! Nick: Right. Anyway, the book’s about us just trying to have a nice, uneventful visit to a movie set and how that wasn’t exciting enough for certain people I could name, so of course I had to get dragged into solving a mystery. Tesla: It’s more like this: Someone’s trying to sabotage a superhero movie, and we figure out who it is. In the process, we pick up lots of cool tips for making our own movies. Nick: Very slick, Tez. Tesla: Thanks. One of us has to be. Nick: Ha ha. Can we be done now? 41


novelty

Ages 12+

T

weens will love designing new outfits for runway models and making their mark on historic buildings with this unique activity book! Famous European landmarks and works of art, genuinely useful facts, and super-chic contemporary cultural references—not to mention plenty of sophisticated fashion—make this one-of-a-kind doodle book perfect for creative, wandering, globetrotting young minds.

I Love Paris, Rome, Berlin, London: Doodle Your Way Across Europe! by Carole Boréal Chronicle www.lasourisquiraconte.com 42

MAY/JUNE 2015


nonfiction Ages 9-12

Baseballogy: Supercool Facts You Never Knew by Kevin Sylvester kevinarts.blogspot.com Annick Press

O

ften referred to as “America’s National Pastime,” and “The Greatest Sport on Earth,” baseball has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people. Behind the game lies a wealth of science, folklore, mathematics, psychology—and a very colorful past. Whether they are die-hard fans or casual spectators, readers will be captivated by this collection of fascinating, little-known facts. For example, did you know that the yarn in a single baseball is long enough to reach from the street to nearly the top of the Empire State

Building, or that in the old days playoff tickets were sold for people to stand in the outfield: fans might move to help the home team but not budge an inch for opposing players. With lots of humorous, colorful illustrations, charts, and graphs, Baseballogy explores such diverse topics as the materials used to make the balls (including fish eyes, once used for the core!), freak injuries (one player was stabbed by a bat!), and the chances of making it to “the show” (1 in about 14,000 baseballplaying kids will get to the big leagues).

UNBOUND

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graphic novel

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson www.victoriajamieson.com Penguin Young Readers

Ages 9-12

F

or most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school‌ in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.

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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.

www.annickpress.com

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BOOK SHELF Quackers Wants to Fly by Susan Wolff

Q

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

A

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

A

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. Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone by Dave Whitaker

F

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

C

The Gifted Ones The Dream by P.G. Shriver

F

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

A

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.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


publisher’s corner

www.month9books.com

We are nothing without our books and their readers.

—Georgia McBride, founder of Month9Books

A chat with

Georgia McBride

The people behind the books

We employ numerous How Month9Books freelance editors, illustrators, got started designers and support staff. Month9Books began But I would like to mention when I got tired of seeing Jennifer Million, my personal awesome books rejected by assistant and author liaison; the big publishers for being Courtney Koschel who “paranormal” or the market runs our editorial program; being “over-saturated.” I knew Jaime Arnold, who heads up there was a market for these marketing and PR; and Allie great stories. Someone needed Kincheloe, who coordinates to go out on a limb. editorial and production. I am the founder of Georgia How Month9Books McBride Media Group, home got its name of Month9Books, Swoon Both my kids were born Romance, and Tantrum in September! Books.

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What makes Month9Books special

Like any publisher, we are nothing without our books and their readers. I am always excited to receive emails and messages from readers who have enjoyed our titles.

Awards & recognition

Our Month9Books titles have been nominated for Bram Stoker and RITA awards, and have won RWA chapter awards. They have been reviewed in and recommended by Publishers Weekly, USA Today, VOYA Magazine, Justine Magazine and more.


books to check out

Recent and upcoming middle grade releases VOYA Recommended The Three Thorns by Michael Gibney February 2015

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant February 2015 Joshua and the Lightning Road by Donna Galanti May 19, 2015 Strange Country Day by Charles Curtis August 2015 The Extremely Epic Viking Tale of Yondersaay by Aoife Lennon-Ritchie August 2015

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant Ages 9-12

L

ucas travels from city to city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers. But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know. Like the rest of Lucas’s friends, he’s dead. Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents, or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters? If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them. When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes he has to find his family.

Joshua and the Lightning Road by Donna Galanti Ages 9-12

J

oshua’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend— possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy.

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best

of the book blogs Blue Birds Caroline Starr Rose Penguin Young Readers Review by

MY BRAIN ON BOOKS

Ages 10-12 Why I recommend it: This book is gorgeous. And I’m not just talking about that beautiful cover. With the two voices of Kimi and Alis, young girls from different cultures who nevertheless form a lasting friendship, Caroline Starr Rose has created a novel in verse that is more like two sweet voices singing. They sing of bluebirds, the sun, and the sky, they sing of the fragile tendrils of friendship, and they sing of the many hardships in their lives. Before I was a third of the way through this I’d forgotten I was reading a novel in verse and I was simply pulled in by Kimi and Alis and their

story. Despite the thickness of the book, I read this in one day. At the same time, I didn’t want to leave their story, and it has stayed with me for weeks now. I had far too many favorite lines to choose from, but in this example, from p.192, you can see how every word counts: In my mind, there are no barriers. My words and hers make perfect sense between us. Bonus: This would be excellent for classroom discussions. Includes an Author’s Note with historical information.

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

MAY/JUNE 2015

TWEEN LIBRARIAN UNADULTERATED.US BECKY’S BOOK REVIEWS

COREENA MCBURNIE, AUTHOR BOYS RULE! BOYS READ! CARNIVAL OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE


The Way Home Looks Now Wendy Wan-Long Shang Scholastic Review by

WALKING BRAIN CELLS

P

eter loves baseball just like all of the others in his family, including his mother who is a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan. His older brother is amazing at baseball and will occasionally join in the neighborhood game and hit homeruns. But when tragedy strikes their family, Peter stops playing entirely. Shang has written a book that will appeal to children who adore baseball but also invites in those who may not be fans. This is not a sports book, but rather a novel that features baseball and the catalyst that sports can be for a family to rally around. At the same time, Shang shows the appeal of baseball in particular with its mathematical logic,

Ages 8-12 fascinating trick plays, and the effect that being on a team can have on different kids. The central family in this novel is Chinese American. Shang weaves details of that heritage throughout the novel. It is more about the reverberations through generations of concepts like honoring your elders and showing respect. The father in the book had been a distant figure and suddenly becomes the sole caretaker for Peter and his little sister. That transition is shown in all of its difficulty, made even more difficult because of the strict nature of their relationship. These complexities add a lot of depth to the novel, making it about so much more than baseball.

>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com MIDDLE GRADE MAFIASO FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF   MIDDLE GRADE AUTHORS MS. YINGLING READS

MOTHER, DAUGHTER & SON   BOOK REVIEWS PUSS REBOOTS PROJECT MAYHEM 51


poetry

Ages 7-10

Bigfoot Is Missing by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt Illustrated by MinaLima Chronicle Books www.poetry4kids.com | www.jpatricklewis.com

BIGFOOT IS MISSING. Copyright Š 2015 by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books.

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LAST WORDS

We need to stick together. That’s what teams do. Race the Wild: Great Reef Games by Kristin Earhart

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EST. 1972

HPB.COM


may/june 2015

contributors ALTEBRANDO, TARA Author of several young adult novels, Altebrando studied American Government at Harvard, collects spoons and records, and spent time as a stand-up comedian and music journalist. The Battle of Darcy Lane was her first middle grade novel. ANDRAKA, JACK Jack was 15 years old when he invented an early-detection test for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers. Now, at 18, he has numerous awards and speaks to audiences across the globe. He has been featured in several documentaries, including Morgan Spurlock’s You Don’t Know Jack, as well as countless radio, newspaper, and magazine articles. BLACKALL, SOPHIE Sophie Blackall is an Australian illustrator whose books include Ruby’s Wish, Meet Wild Boars, and When You Reach Me. She lives in New York.

FRANKLIN, MIRIAM SPITZER Franklin is a former school teacher who currently teaches homeschooled students and is a writerin-residence with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Miriam lives with her husband, two daughters, and two cats in Charlotte, North Carolina. Extraordinary is her debut middle grade novel. FRITZ, JOANNE Fritz has worked as a bookseller, a librarian, and an editorial assistant for a children’s publisher. After surviving a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2005, she began writing and blogging. Her book reviews can be found at My Brain on Books. She lives with her family in West Chester, PA.

HOCKENSMITH, STEVEN Hockensmith is the author of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novels Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After, and co-author of the Nick and Tesla series. His book Holmes on the FOGELIN, ADRIAN Range was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, and Fogelin has done jobs as varied as zoo illustrator, Anthony Awards for Best First Novel. manager of a public library, and photo retoucher, but has decided that, like her writer mother, sto- JAMIESON, VICTORIA rytelling is the best job of all. She has nine titles Jamieson received her BFA in Illustration from the for young readers, all published by Peachtree Rhode Island School of Design. She has worked Publishers in Atlanta. as a children’s book designer, freelance illustrator, and a portrait artist aboard a cruise ship. She has BERTMAN, JENNIFER CHAMBLISS lived in Australia, Italy, and Canada, and maintains Bertman was born and raised in the San Francisco a not-so-secret identity as Winnie the Pow, skater Bay Area. She holds an MFA in creative writing and with the Rose City Rollers roller derby league. has worked for literary agencies, magazines, educational publishers, and as a freelance copyeditor and LEWIS, J. PATRICK proofreader. Book Scavenger is her debut novel. Lewis has authored more than fifty books of po-

cool reads for cool kids.


may/june 2015

contributors etry for children. In 2011, he was named the Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation and was given the NCTE Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award. LITWIN, MIKE A graduate of the East Carolina University School of Art and Design, Litwin plays both designer and illustrator with an often wacky, always delightful style. He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.

RICHARDS, C.J. Richards has loved tinkering with gadgets since he was a little boy. He remembers fondly the time he accidentally blew up his father’s radio after some experimental rewiring. Mr. Richards lives with his wife, his cat, and his eight televisions. SAEKER, TASHA Saecker is the Assistant Director at the Appleton Public Library in Appleton, Wisconsin. She started her children’s and teen lit blog in 2003 as one of the first blogs focusing on books for youth. Her blog is now called Waking Brain Cells, and she posts book reviews for youth of all ages along with short news items about the book industry.

MCBRIDE, GEORGIA McBride is the founder of Georgia McBride Media Group, home of Month9Books, Swoon Romance, and Tantrum Books. She develops content for film and TV, and is also a speculative fiction writer. Georgia founded the #YAlitchat WALTMAN, KEVIN hashtag and weekly chat on Twitter in 2009. Waltman teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama. He lives in Coker, Alabama, with NESBITT, KENN his family. Slump is the second book in his DNesbitt is the current U.S. children’s poet laure- Bow High School Hoops series. ate and an award-winning author of poetry for children, whose works have appeared in numer- WEICHMAN, KATHY CANNON ous poetry collections and school textbooks Wiechman traveled to Ohio, West Virginia, Georaround the country. gia (the site of Andersonville Prison), Virginia, Tennessee, and Mississippi to research and write PFLUGFELDER, BOB Like a River. She also attended several Civil War “Science Bob” Pflugfelder  is an elementary reenactments and learned to load and fire a muzschool teacher based in Newton, Massachu- zleloader. Like A River is her debut novel. setts.  His collaborations with Steve Hockensmith include  Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group Danger Lab, Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Ram- LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX 75085. Copypage, and Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget right 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are Battle. FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids -- May/June 2015  

The best new books for readers 8 to 14. In this issue: Jack Andraka, Sophie Blackall, Matt Nadel, sports books, and more.

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