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MAY/JUNE 2014

FEATURING

TYLER WHITESIDES RYAN GEBHART BRANDON DORMAN

Interview with author Dorine White Out of this World Adventures Inside Jolly Fish Press


Elizabeth Woodrum

Maisy Sawyer

is not your average fourth grade student. She is a detective with a special skill for solving mysteries. She loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. When a thief known as The Black Boot steals the school’s mascots and her lollipops, Maisy sets out to solve the case. Can she help return the mice to their home in the science lab? Will she ever see her beloved lollipops again? Find out in the first book in The Maisy Files series.

“Educator Elizabeth Woodrum’s first foray into writing children’s books is a fun mystery with an imaginative and assertive fourthgrade girl protagonist, Maisy Sawyer.” —The Children’s Book Review Maisy and the Missing Mice is a fun chapter book featuring a smart and sassy tween girl as the title character; a solid and interesting plot featuring age-appropriate intrigue and suspense; and some terrific writing that carries the reader on a journey as a detective uncovering clues and solving the mystery of who stole the missing mice. —Mother Daughter Book Reviews The writing in Maisy and the Missing Mice is just right for children in grades 2 through 4, and perhaps even for first graders who are advanced readers. It’s a great book to suggest to children who enjoy reading books like Nate the Great and Olivia Sharp. —Innovative Librarianship Blog

Click Here to view the trailer.

Available at (Kindle, paperback, and audiobook)

and createspace Discount Code for 10% off paperback: 997B6Q56

Click Here to preview the first 3 chapters.

www.elizabethwoodrum.com


staff

Margaret Brown fo u n d e r a n d p u b l i sh e r Laurisa White Reyes e d i tor i n ch i e f

What to read next?

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

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

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Jane Miller ac c o u n t i n g ma n a g e r

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

Illustration: Brandon Dorman from Janitors: Strike of the Sweepers by Tyler Whitesides

COOL READS FOR KIDS


What would you do if your parents weren’t watching? I

t’s 1943 and eleven-year-old Les MacGregor is thinking of running away. He’s sick of his parents, who are always fighting, and his three horrible brothers—perfect James, bitter Charlie and annoying Johnny. With his parents focused on their problems, Les has plenty of time on his own to do what he wants. After being ostracized thanks to the school bully, Les spends time dissecting a dead cat in his secret science lab, scaling the attic roof and tapping phones lines, which seems like a great idea until the FBI comes calling. It’s time for Les to go, so he plans his escape. While the family gathers at the station to ship his perfect older brother James off to war, Les figures it’s time to hop a train and go on a grand adventure. After all, there’s nobody looking—right?

www.victoryonthehomefrontbook.com

Paperback and Kindle editions available on


may/june 2014

contents

DEPARTMENTS 4

a word from the editor

6

letters to the editor

16

themed books: out of this world adventures

20

cool reads for cool kids

34 novelty 35

graphic novel

8 tyler whitesides interview with the author of the Janitors series

37

non-fiction

12

dorine white interview with the author of The Ruby Pendant

46

publisher’s corner

48

best of the book blogs

14

debut author interview with ryan gebhart

50

on our shelf

52

poetry

28

under the covers with artist brandon dorman

54

last words

42

character spotlight a visit with tark and zyra from the Gamers series

56

contributors

44 reviews

On the cover: Illustration by Brandon Dorman from Janitors: Curse of the Broomstaff by Tyler Whitesides

Images from Smasher by Scott Bly, Scholastic, Inc., and Brave by Wendy Constance, Chicken House Publishing LTD.


a word from the

editor

A

s the school year draws to an end, my kids and I are looking forward to planning our summer vacation. Of course, choosing great books to read is at the top of our To Do List. One of my favorite summer activities is reading outside on the beach or under a shady tree. In fact, I keep a tote bag full of my favorite books in my car so I have them wherever I happen to go. Summer should be full of fun and adventure, so what better theme could this issue of Middle Shelf Magazine have than “Out of This World Adventures?” Out of this world could mean stories that are dazzling, spectacular, thrilling! There Will Be Bears by Ryan Gebhart or Bones by John Wilson would definitely fit that bill. Or it might mean something more literal—stories that take you to worlds outside of our own, such as Tyler Whitesides’ Janitors series, Jaleigh Johnson’s The Mark of the Dragonfly, or Jenn Reese’s Horizon. To help you find just the right books for your summer reading, we’ve included an exciting collection of excerpts from various genres, from the prehistoric tale Brave by Wendy Constance to the young Sherlock Holmes mystery The Dark Lady by Irene Adler. Also, be sure to check out our spotlight on Spellbound, an exciting E-zine chock full of fantasy short stories just for you! Whatever books you choose, I hope you all enjoy every adventure that comes your way—real and imaginary. Happy reading! 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

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letters to the editor

Dear Middle Shelf, I wanted to thank you for your last issue. After reading your review I bought Under the Egg by L. M. Fitzgerald to give my daughter for her birthday. I was intrigued by it myself and so decided to check out the first two chapters... ended up reading the whole thing. Really liked it alot and know my daughter will too. Can’t wait to give it to her later this month! Thanks! —Sylvia Smith Duggan Dear Middle Shelf, The Nethergrim is an excellent book that reminds you that you should do what you feel is right, not necessarily what somebody else wants. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with a longing for adventure. I also just finished Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery by Ace Hansen. It is a funny book with a quirky story line. It’s about a fifth grade boy named Julius who needs to find out what’s causing a mysterious green gas that smells like dying fish and rotten eggs. I think middle school kids would enjoy the humorous plot twists that lead to a surprising ending in this book. —Sydney Knott Dear Middle Shelf, I think Einstein the Class Hamster is a really, really good book because it is easy to read, and it is funny. It is funny because there is a python named Twinkles. Einstein gets frustrated that no one but Ned ever listens to him, and Twinkles is always trying to eat him. The illustrations are silly and keep me laughing. —Riley Balena

To write to Middle Shelf magazine, send letters to Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com.

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MAY/JUNE 2014


The Secret Hum of a Daisy “Tracy Holczer’s story is a lyric about love and loss and not being able to find your future until you’ve uncovered your past.” — Richard Peck, author of the Newbery Medal-winning A Year Down Yonder

“A lovely and captivating debut... nuanced characters engage from beginning to end.” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

For an autographed copy, order through Once Upon a Time (request autograph in the comments section of order)

www.shoponceuponatime.com Also available at Amazon

www.tracyholczer.com


feature

author interview

Janitors: Curse of the Broomstaff

Ages 10-13 Shadow Mountain Publishing www.tylerwhitesides.com

Tyler Whitesides H

ave you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it’s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy “Gullible” Gates, must fight with and against a secret janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? In Book 3 of Janitors, The Curse of the Broomstaff, the Janitors continue their battle, but now, the stakes are even higher. The Bureau of Educational Maintenance is after Alan Zumbro and this time they mean business, deadly business. Spencer, Daisy, and their little team of rebels must find the source of all magical Glop and destroy it before it can destroy the world as we know it. No small task with the BEM and their monster toxites at their heels. It’s a wild and dangerous ride as they follow the trail of clues all the way to the hiding place of the mysterious aurans: guardians of a secret landfill. What they discover there will change the way Spencer sees himself, not to mention the fate of the rebels. 8

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TYLER Middle Shelf: Tell us about Janitors: The Curse of the Broomstaff. Tyler Whitesides: Janitors is about a sixth grade boy named Spencer and a girl named Daisy, who discover the presence of invisible little monsters in their school. These creatures inhale students’ brainwaves and exhale sleepiness, distraction, and apathy, preventing kids from paying attention in school. A secret society of janitors knows about the creatures and uses  magic powered mops, brooms, and vacuums  to fight them off. But there are good janitors and bad janitors. Spencer and Daisy have to decide who they can trust. Book 3: The Curse of the Broomstaff takes a fun new turn as Spencer and Daisy follow a trail of clues which lead them to a secret magical landfill. They must journey through piles of garbage and fight off magically enhanced, walking mounds of trash. 

MS: School janitors with wizard powers is an unusual yet innovative topic for a children’s book series. What inspired you to write it? Whitesides: Most of the inspiration I got for writing Janitors came from a part-time job I had in college. Each night I went to a local middle school and spent several hours taking out the trash and sweeping the floors. It provided me a lot of time to think and brainstorm. Before long, I had an entire story to tell. 

MS: What is the scariest challenge Spencer and Daisy face? Whitesides: I try to put my characters through a variety of challenges and adventures. Some of the difficulties are somewhat humorous, some are intense and action-packed, while others are a little bit scary and dangerous. By writing about many different types of challenges, I hope my readers will always find something they enjoy. As for scary ... there are some new enemies coming in Janitors book 4, Strike of the Sweepers. MS: Any similarity between Welcher ElemenSpencer and Daisy are going to have a hard time tary and the school(s) you attended as a kid? Whitesides: Authors often draw upon details against those new bad guys!

“Parts of Welcher Elementary might bear resemblance to that middle school where I worked.” 9


that they are familiar with. Parts of Welcher Elementary might bear resemblance to that middle school where I worked. Other parts of the school are built solely out of my imagination. 

one before it. I am always challenging myself to find something bigger and more exciting. I have wonderful readers and fans, and I want to make sure that my books live up to their expectations. 

MS: Other than being a school janitor, what other interesting jobs have you had? Whitesides: I had several odd jobs through high school and college. One summer I wired and shot professional  fireworks for the 4th of July. I taught private music lessons to a handful of students. One of my favorite little jobs was at Utah State University, where I worked as a taste tester, helping gather data for the Food Science department. 

MS: If you could go on any adventure you choose, what would it be? Whitesides: I’ve always wanted to go on an adventure with swords and dragons. Something like The Hobbit sounds fun to me. I’d want plenty of action against dangerous beasts and mystical creatures. I’d want a magical sword and a really cool shield. And of course, I’d need some good companions. I think an adventure would be most fun if I could go with my friends! 

MS: What has been the biggest challenge you faced as an author? Whitesides: As the series has progressed, I feel great pressure to make each book better than the

MS: How many books do you have planned for Janitors? When is book 4 coming out? Whitesides:There will be 5 books in the series. Book 4 will come out in September 2014, and the final book will follow a year later (September 2015). 

“I am always challenging myself to find something bigger and more exciting. I have wonderful readers and fans, and I want to make sure that my books live up to their expectations.” 10

MAY/JUNE 2014


EMBLAZON Twenty Authors Dozens of Tween Books Creating Thousands of Lifelong Readers

WWW.EMBLAZONERS.COM 11


feature

author interview

Cleopatra’s Legacy: The Ruby Pendant

Ages 8-12 www.dorinewhite.com

Dorine White W

elcome to New Orleans—home of Mardi Gras, jazz music and voodoo. Eighth grader Melanie Belaforte is home for spring break and itching for excitement. Late one night she discovers a hidden chamber and a secret journal in her deceased Aunt Florence’s bedroom. The diary contains the writings of a mad woman, along with vague clues to the whereabouts of a ruby necklace that once belonged to Cleopatra. The ruby bestows upon the wearer the power to hear other people’s thoughts—even the thoughts of the dead! And so the hunt begins. Melanie, her best friend Sybil, and a haunting specter unravel clues that take them from crumbling graveyards, to the busy streets of the French Quarter, and then into murky swamps, all to find the prize. But they need to watch out, because a murderous cult is matching them step for step, and they won’t give up, ever.

“Research is the key to breathing life into a story. My original research took me back to ancient Egypt.” 12

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DORINE Middle Shelf: The Ruby Pendant is the second book in the Cleopatra’s Legacy series. What is the series about overall? Dorine White: The overall premise of the series is that before Cleopatra died she entrusted a servant with her five magic gemstones: emerald, ruby, diamond, onyx, and sapphire. The servant delivered them to specific individuals to keep them safe from the Romans. In modern times, these gemstones have found their way into unexpected hands: those of my main characters. Each of the gemstones has a different magic power; for example, in The Emerald Ring we find out that the emerald gives the wearer the ability to understand animals and shapeshift into an Egyptian cat. In The Ruby Pendant, our heroine discovers that she can hear the thoughts of the people around her, even the dead.

Cleopatra because her legacy is larger than life, MS: The book takes place in New Orleans. and children would recognize her name. I loved How did research help you write the story? mixing together all the ancient beliefs and adding White: Research is the key to breathing life into a modern day twist with magic gemstones. a story. My original research took me back to ancient Egypt. I studied customs, mummification, MS: As a mother of six children, when do you religious beliefs and history. Even though my writ- find time to write? ing is fantasy based, I want the historical aspects White: It is hard. I often write in swings, many to be right on target. For this second book, I weeks at a time and then nothing for awhile. Life watched a lot of YouTube videos that people post- is demanding, and my kids come first. ed about their trips to New Orleans. I wanted to catch the city’s colorful flare for my readers. I also MS: Will there be more books in Cleopatra’s studied the historical graveyards and the uses of Legacy? voodoo. New Orleans is almost a main character White: Yes, there are at least four books in the in the story, so I needed to make it real and vivid. series. Besides The Emerald Ring and The Ruby Pendant, I have finished the first draft of The MS: What inspired Cleopatra’s Legacy? Diamond Looking Glass. The third book brings White: I wanted to combine my two favorite things, us to Paris, France. Readers will have the chance culture and fantasy. I decided on Egypt because to visit the Louvre museum, the famous Paris of all their many beliefs in the afterlife. I picked Opera house and Sorbonne University. 13


feature

author interview

There Will Be Bears

Ages 10+ Candlewick Press www.candlewick.com

Ryan Gebhart T

hirteen-year-old Tyson loves hanging out with his roughneck Grandpa Gene, who’s a lot more fun than Tyson’s ex–best friend, Brighton. These days, Bright just wants to be seen with the cool jocks who make fun of Tyson’s Taylor Swift obsession and dorky ways. So when Grandpa Gene has to move to a nursing home that can manage his kidney disease, Tyson feels like he’s losing his only friend. Not only that, but Tyson was counting on Grandpa Gene to take him on his first big hunt. So in defiance of Mom and Dad’s strict orders, and despite reports of a scary, stalking, man-eating grizzly named Sandy, the two sneak off to the Grand Tetons. Yes, there will be action, like shooting and dressing a six-hundred-pound elk. Is Tyson tough enough? There will be heart-pounding suspense: is Grandpa Gene too sick to handle the hunt, miles away from help? And, oh yes, there will be bears. . . .

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for [my grandparents’] unconditional love.” 14

MAY/JUNE 2014


RYAN Middle Shelf: In your debut novel, There Will Be Bears, Tyson is very close to his grandpa, but several things happen that threaten to change that. Did you have a grandpa like Gene? Ryan Gebhart: Growing up, I was very close with my grandparents as Tyson was to his own, but I don’t think my papa had ever touched a rifle, let alone gone hunting. My grandparents were more into golf, gardening, and 60 Minutes. I dedicated this book to them because of how much they helped raise me and my siblings, and how they always encouraged me to pursue my random and always changing interests. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for their unconditional love. MS: How did your experience working on a hunting ranch influence this book? Gebhart: Way back in the long, long ago, I had this idea about a kid breaking his grandfather out of a nursing home, which was inspired by the movie Big Fish and by my grandma getting put in a home. But the story had no meat to it, so it got shelved. A year later, my buddy offered me a job at a hunting ranch near the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I hadn’t hunted before nor even fired a gun, and the next thing I knew, I was quartering elk and packing it onto horses and legitimately terrified that a grizzly bear would charge out of the woods and eat my face. The first time I packed out an elk, I thought I’d have a panic attack from all the blood. But as I was hacking away, it felt like all my primal instincts were kicking in. I also had “Party in the USA” playing in my head, which...maybe was not so primal. It was such a coming-of-age time for me— despite the fact that I was twenty-seven—and it

gave my inter-generational story idea plenty of meat ... and teeth and blood and bears. MS: Describe one of your greatest adventures. Gebhart: While I was earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish, I had the opportunity to teach English in Ecuador, visit Guatemala twice, and live with a host family in Costa Rica. During those four years, I nearly drowned in the Pacific, witnessed a friend go psychotic during a shamanic healing ceremony in the Ecuadorian rainforest, made a fool of myself on the Costa Rican variety show A Todo Dar, and befriended children living next to the Guatemala city dump. I learned to salsa, watched Seinfeld in Spanish, and I tried to like soccer, I really, really tried, but yeah, I still can’t stand it. 15


themed books: out of this world adventures

NIGHT BUDDIES

SMASHER

by Sands Hetherington

Scholastic, Inc. scottbly.com

Dune Buggy Press nightbuddiesadventures.com

ages 6+

N

ight Buddies revolves around the nighttime adventures of a young boy named John, who is not ready to go to sleep, and a bright red crocodile named Crosley who turns up under John’s bed. In the second book in the series, Night Buddies: Impostors and One Far-Out Flying Machine, red crocodiles start popping up all over the city, creating confusion, committing crimes, and causing Crosley to go a little crazy at the sight of them. The impostors must be stopped, and Night Buddies John and Crosley are just the guys to stop them! Stakeouts and wild chases in a fantastic flying machine, far-out schemes to snare the imposters, and a never-ending supply of Crusted Crème Fro-Madge frozen yogurt make for one totally super night.

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by Scott Bly

ages 10-14

I

n this riveting suspense thriller, two children race the clock to stop a futuristic murderer and his plan to enslave the world. In thirty days, a cold-hearted corporate tycoon will unleash a deadly biological computer virus on the entire world. As the public eagerly awaits his invention that promises ultimate relaxation, harmony, and community, the evil bigbusiness sorcerer plans to put an end to freedom. Can he be stopped? The world’s only hope is if Charlie, a math genius with otherworldly skills, and Geneva, a robotic girl from the future, can team up to track down some very dark secrets. With a method that uses atomic particles, Geneva and Charlie use “Smasher” to break through the walls of time. They travel to find an unlikely solution. But will it work?


out of this world adventures

THE THICKETY: A PATH BEGINS

HORIZON (ABOVE WORLD, BOOK 3)

by J.A. White

by Jenn Reese

HarperCollins jawhitebooks.com

Candlewick Press www.jennreese.com

ages 8–12

ages 10–14

W

hen Kara Westfall was six years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic ... except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr’s Realm. But mostly it’s called the Thickety. The villagers live in fear of the Thickety and the terrible creatures that live there. But when an unusual bird lures Kara into the forbidden forest, she discovers a strange book with unspeakable powers.

A

luna and Hoku, Kampii from the City of Shifting Tides, are determined to stop a war. The maniacal ex-scientist Karl Strand is planning to conquer the world with his enormous army of tech-enhanced soldiers ... unless Aluna and Hoku can get to Strand first. Aluna’s plan is dangerous: pose as Upgraders and infiltrate the army. But the enemy isn’t what they expected and the strategy begins to crumble. When the friends are torn apart by conflicting allegiances, their slim chance of avoiding war seems to disappear completely. For Aluna and Hoku, what began as a quest to save their own people has become a mission to save the world. 17


themed books: out of this world adventures

WISH YOU WEREN’T by Sherrie Petersen CreateSpace sherriepetersenbooks.com

ages 10+

M

arten doesn’t believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn’t expect it to make any difference. Until his annoying brother disappears. With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves.

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TIME OUT OF TIME: BEYOND THE DOOR by Maureen Doyle McQuerry Amulet maureenmcquerry.com

ages 10-14

W

ith his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens, and mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age-old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy has to team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica, to face an ancient evil.


out of this world adventures

MOUSEHEART NINJA by Lisa Fiedler Simon & Shuster authors.simonandschuster.com

ages 8-12

H

opper is just an ordinary pet shop mouse before he escapes. Soon he finds himself below the bustling streets of Brooklyn, deep within the untamed tangles of transit tunnels, and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization. But all is not what it seems. Though Hopper is treated as a royal guest, he misses his siblings that he lost in the escape attempt. That, and Atlantia is constantly threatened by the rebels who wish to bring the city to its knees. And there are cats everywhere in Atlantia, cats that leave the citizens unharmed … and no one can seem to answer why. Soon, Hopper is caught in the crosshairs of a colossal battle, one that crosses generations and species. As the clashes rage, Hopper learns terrible, extraordinary secrets: deadly secrets about Atlantia.

LIBRARIANS: THE ACCIDENTAL KEYHAND by Jen Swann Downey Sourcebooks jenswanndowney.com

ages 9-13

W

hen Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase Moe—an unusually foul-tempered mongoose—into the janitor’s closet of their local library, they make an astonishing discovery: the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians. Their mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Petrarch’s Library is an amazing, jumbled, time-traveling secret base that can dock anywhere there’s trouble. Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society, fighting injustice with a real sword! But when a traitor surfaces, she and Marcus are prime suspects. 19


excerpts

COOL READS FOR

1

CONTEMPORARY

2

3

FANTASY

HUMOR 20

MAY/JUNE 2014

COOL

KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.

4

5

MYSTERY

6

HISTORICAL

SCIENCE FICTION


1

contemporary

Ages 8-12 The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando Running Press Book Publishers | www.taraaltebrando.com

W

hen I still couldn’t sleep a few hours later, after my parents had come up and gone to bed, I got up and put on a sweatshirt over my pajamas. I went downstairs, turned on one of the lights in the backyard, and went outside to practice Russia. I was up to twelvesies when a light came on in Peter’s room. A minute later, his window opened and his head popped out. “Are you crazy?” he whisper-yelled. “I think I am!” I said back, not even trying to whisper. “Shhhhh. I’m coming over.” A few minutes later, I heard the back door of his house creak open. Soon he was at the fence, climbing and dropping down into my yard. “Julia,” he said. “It’s late. You’re going to wake up the whole neighborhood.” “So?” I threw the ball way high and did the over-and-under leg clap and caught it. Only three more times to go before I hit the final move of the game. But then noises came from my own house, and Mom appeared on the deck in her bathrobe. “Peter. I don’t want to have to wake your mom.” “Sorry.” He climbed back up over the fence and was gone. I was about to tell Mom that I needed a few more minutes, and that it wasn’t up to her to tell me to stop, but she stood there and folded her arms. “So, how hard is it?” I did another eleven. “Not that hard.” “Are you any good at it?”

“Pretty good.” I bounced the ball and caught it, not as a move, just for something to do. “Good enough to win?” “I don’t know.” She turned a lawn chair to face the patio where I was practicing and turned another of the backyard lights on. “Show me what you’ve got.” The Battle of Darcy Lane. Copyright © 2014 by Tara Altebrando. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Running Press, Pennsylvania, PA.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21


2

fantasy

Ages 9-13 The Moon Coin by Richard Due Gibbering Gnome Press | http://themoonrealm.com

D

irectly in front of them was a strangelooking seahorse, its tail tightly clutching a small golden perch embedded in the reef. Covered in varying shades of bright red plumage, he couldn’t have measured more than ten inches fully stretched out. All along the reef were mounted more of the small golden perches, each occupied by equally strange-looking creatures, though the rest were more bird-like—or were they fish? It was hard to tell. Their wings were short for wings, and their fins were long for fins. And their mouths, though wide like fishes’ mouths, were hard like birds’ beaks. And now, with the Tesla generator supplying electricity, they had begun to twitch, their heads jerking in little jolts as the airborne electric current pulsed through their bodies. The red seahorse untucked his head. Still quivering, he stretched out his stubby wings and began testing them in short, rapid bursts. All along the reef wall, birdfish were testing their wings. Some sat still, moving only their flamboyant crests up and down; others spread their fins wide, like brightly colored sails. The seahorse, whose name was Oscar, began opening and closing his eyes in a way that always made Jasper think he was running some kind of internal systems check. Presently, Oscar opened his beak and let out a loud burble-squawk. Lily grinned at him. “Well, hello, Oscar!” Lily had been five when she named him. He

was the only birdfish to have an official name and the only seahorse. Oscar was a favorite. With an explosive flapping of wings, Oscar popped upward a foot or more before settling down and once again clasping the golden perch with his long tail. He shook his head, ruffled his feathers, and opened his eyes wide to take stock of his surroundings, eventually settling his blinking gaze on Lily and Jasper. The Moon Coin. Copyright © 2012 by Richard Due. Excerpt reprinted with permission of the author.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 22

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3

humor

Ages 10-14 Middle School Cool by Maiya Williams Random House Children’s Books | www.maiyawilliams.com

“I

’m sorry, you’ll all have to speak louder. I’m wearing earplugs.” Mr. Mister adjusted his glasses. “I’m sensitive to loud noises. My nerves can’t tolerate that . . . that cannon. Or the gong.” Jory raised his hand but didn’t wait to be called on. “Why do you work at a school called Kaboom Academy if you can’t stand loud noises?” “I don’t know where you got the idea that I can’t handle boys. I can handle boys, boys and girls. That’s one of the reasons I’m such an effective teacher. Now let’s get down to business. In this class you are going to learn how to write and produce a newspaper. You will be taught how to find a story, how to research it, how to interview people for it, how to write it, how to edit it, and how to lay out the copy once it has been written. Simply put, you are going to understand what it is to be a journalist. We in this class have the profound responsibility of informing the students, faculty, administrators, staff, your parents, yea verily the entire Horsemouth community, about everything that is newsworthy at this institution. Our goal is to report those things that would be important to our readers without bias and with perfect accuracy.” Muffled laughter escaped from the students who thought Mr. Mister’s use of “yea verily” was pompous. Victoria, unfazed by the archaic language, raised her hand. “What about the opinion page? That

would be biased,” she pointed out. “You’ll have to wait to use the bathroom until class is over. You really should take care of that during lunchtime.” Mr. Mister clapped his hands together. “Now. Our newspaper needs a name. Any suggestions?” As ideas were called out, Mr. Mister wrote them on the board. Middle School Cool. Copyright © 2014 by Maiya Williams. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Random House, New York, NY.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23


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mystery

Ages 8-12 Sherlock, Lupin & Me: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler Capstone Press | www.capstoneyoungreaders.com

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hen I heard a shout and a thud behind me, I turned to see Sherlock struggling back up to his feet. “Don’t stop, I’ll be fine!” he ordered me. “They’re still after us!” But soon we had lost them, and there were just the three of us wandering among the chimneys and gables of the town. The screams and curses were lost in the night as if they’d never even existed. Lupin guided us to a dark corner between two buildings where we’d be as good as invisible. We rested there for a while, all huddled up together and catching our breath. We slowly inhaled the cool night air, trying to calm ourselves down and let the adrenaline wash away. “I’m going to check to see if the coast is clear,” Lupin whispered after what seemed an eternity. “Stay here.” I tried to get my bearings from the cathedral bell tower, but it was no good. My heart was pounding so hard in my chest that it interrupted my thinking. I saw that I was shivering, too. Sherlock hugged me. I let him, and discovered that he was shivering as well. I can’t say how long we stayed there in each other’s arms in the shadow of the roof, but eventually I started to feel anxious that Lupin hadn’t returned. I looked up . . . and what I saw petrified me. “Sherlock?” I whispered. I felt him stir next to me, as if I’d woken him. “Do you see what I see?” A couple of roofs away stood a figure

who appeared to be looking straight at us. I felt Sherlock’s entire body tense up. The man was entirely dressed in black. At that distance at night, I couldn’t make out his features, but there was no doubt he was facing us. “Do you think,” I whispered in fear, “that he’s the Rooftop Thief?” The man continued to look at us. He remained perfectly still. For a few moments, I thought he might be a statue. Sherlock, Lupin & Me: The Dark Lady. Copyright © 2014 by Irene Adler. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Capstone Press, Edina, MN.

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historical

Ages 10+ Brave by Wendy Constance Chicken House Publishing LTD | http://doublecluck.com

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ild Horse trod carefully as he made his way from rock to rock. The ice creaked with each step, but didn’t crack. He’d nearly reached the last rock when he saw a small herd of deer moving through the trees on the riverbank ahead. He hunched down slowly, careful not to be noticed. If he slid across to the next rock, once he had a firm footing he should be able to jump for the riverbank. The deer would scatter, but he’d be ready to throw his first spear and chase them. Before he had a chance to move the deer dashed away. He frowned then saw the reason. A grey wolf, prowling out from the trees. It glanced at the retreating herd, but turned towards the frozen river. Wild Horse watched the creature sniff the air, baring its yellowed teeth. It was not part of a pack, or it wouldn’t have been hunting the deer on its own. It was thin and hungry. And coming towards him. Wild Horse kept as still as possible, but the wolf came closer. It slithered down the riverbank, started to slink across the surface of the frozen water. Wild Horse pictured Blue Bird waiting for him and knew he had to kill the wolf—he couldn’t risk it crossing the river and following his scent back to where she was. He lurched forwards to throw his first spear—and as the spear flew the surface of the ice cracked, plunging him into the freezing water.

Its coldness bit into him—silencing the yell in his throat. But the wolf yowled; the spear had sliced through its ear and it was now angry as well as hungry. Wild Horse lunged back at the rock, tried to haul himself out of the river with one hand as he clung to his remaining two spears with the other. Brave. Copyright © 2014 by Wendy Constance. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Chicken House Publishing LTD, Sommerset, England.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 25


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science fiction

Ages 9-13 Ekho by Marie D. Jones (with Max Jones) Premier Digital Printing | www.mariedjones.com

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lvis couldn’t believe the boldness of these bullies, nor did he know any of them by name. Billy, Joe, and Santana were not among the group of five kids. But it didn’t matter, Elvis sensed what was about to happen and took action. He pushed up his sleeve to reach the spy watch he wore every day now, and messaged EKHO agents. Trouble near Pod A. Come. Within seconds, the message was sent to Levi, Jordy, Jackson, Ronny, Kayley, and twenty-seven other kids, all of whom dashed out of classrooms and pods with the same intent. As the bullies taunted and pushed Jody around, Elvis saw him fighting back tears. Elvis held up his watch and pressed record, videotaping the action before he stepped out from the shadows of the boys’ room wall and moved towards the group. All around them, the others were converging. “You might not wanna do that, guys,” Elvis said, holding up his spy watch. Behind the bullies, and out of their line of sight, the EKHO agents moved in. “Yeah, like a dork like you is gonna stop us?” One of the boys flipped Elvis the bird. Elvis grinned. “Oh, no, not a dork like me. A dork like ... us.” He motioned behind the bullies, who turned and saw over thirty students moving towards them, many recording the activity, all with faces firm and proud. The

group strode right behind the bullies, then created a protective circle around Jody, crossing their arms and taking defiant stances as the bullies backed away. The boy who flipped Elvis off looked as though he had seen a ghost. Thirty-two of them in fact. His face went white, as did the faces of his cohorts, and together they turned tail and ran back to class. Ekho. Copyright © 2014 by Marie D Jones. Excerpt reprinted with permission of the author.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 26

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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

and

“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

and

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE TRAILER

www.laurisawhitereyes.com

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UNDER THE

COVERS with Brandon Dorman www.brandondorman.com

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ou may not have heard his name, but chances are you know his work. Like many artists, Brandon Dorman’s interest in art began when he was young. After studying Fine Arts at Brigham Young University, he went on to illustrate hundreds of magazine and book covers including Goosebumps, the Newbery Award honor book Saavy, and James Dashner’s The 13th Reality series. Come with us Under the Covers and discover Brandon’s creations.

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The Janitors cover art is 100% digital, like most of my artwork these days. I use a Mac computer, Adobe Photoshop with a Wacom Intuos tablet. The tablet allows me to draw straight onto the computer. Even though my work is done on the computer, I still have to draw every stoke. That’s right, even nose hairs! 29


Most of the time I do not have a final image in my mind. I start with a rough sketch (approved by the publishing company) and work from there. Almost like building a castle with hundreds of blocks. Starting with the foundation and gradually adding pieces where I think it would be cool. And just like building the castle, I will rework certain areas and remove pieces if they don’t seem to fit right. I keep working this way until I get to the top and add the top piece! In painting, most of the time the “top piece� is the highlight to the eyes or sparkles to the magic dust.

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Rarely do I collaborate directly with the author. The art director at the publishing company usually is my main contact and sounding board. He/she is usually getting direction from the book’s editor. 

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I have done covers for Goosebumps, Fablehaven, Savvy, Axel the Truck, Cragbridge Hall, The Land of Stories and many, many others. I have illustrated 18 picture books, two of which I have authored: Santa’s Stowaway and Pirates of the Sea. Also, Janitors Book 4: Strike of the Sweepers, comes out in September.

I drew constantly as a kid. Largely due to my parents great efforts. They spared no expense when it came to art supplies and books. They were very supportive, coaxing anyone who would agree to give me a lesson. I even started a holiday window painting business at the age of 10, of course, once again strongly supported and watched over by my parents. Members of our church also reached out and gave me opportunities to do logos and small art jobs. In high school I sent out fliers and held art classes in my home for elementary age kids. I’ve had a ton of support from so many family and friends. In school, I had a few teachers who did cover art and really inspired me to run in that direction. I think it is a perfect fit and I am very blessed to do what I love! 32

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DORINE WHITE

cleopatra’s legacy

Book I:

The Emerald Ring “The Emerald Ring is an exciting and mysterious fantasy featuring fast-paced action, a scary villain, and a spunky young heroine.” —SUZANNE WILLIAMS, co-author of The Goddess Girls series

Book II:

The Ruby Pendant “Rich with atmosphere, and full of delightful shivers, The Ruby Pendant pulled me right in. Part mystery, part ghost story, it is completely enjoyable.” —BRADEN BELL, author of the Middle School Magic series

WWW.DORINEWHITE.COM


novelty

Ages 8-12

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pellbound is a fantasy publication for kids ages 8-12.  Each issue is themed (changelings, giants, dragons, and so on) and all the fiction, poetry and artwork in that issue touches upon the theme. The magazine’s goal is to put out a publication that is diverse in all ways. It has an international readership and actively seeks stories, poetry and artwork that reflect a wide range of cultures and characters. Stories are important and can change the world.  By providing a publication with an emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness, Spellbound’s editors hope to make a positive impact on young readers. Issues are published in ePub and .mobi format and are available through B&N, Kobo, Amazon and the publisher’s site.  They are DRM free files. Each issue includes a reading list, and a lesson plan is made available for free from the publisher’s website.

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Spellbound Eggplant Productions http://eggplantproductions.com/spellbound-magazine


graphic novel

Cleopatra in Space#1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack Scholastic, Inc. www.cowshell.com

Ages 8-12

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funny, action-packed graphic novel featuring a young Cleopatra—yes, THAT Cleopatra—who’s transported to the future and learns it’s up to her to save the galaxy! When a young Cleopatra finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octa-

vian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without) and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, all while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!

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nonfiction Ages 8+

Plastic Ahoy! by Patricia Newman, photography by Annie Crawley www.patriciamnewman.com Lerner Publishing Group

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lastic: it’s used to make everything from drink bottles and bags to toys and toothbrushes. But what happens when it ends up where it doesn’t belong—like in the Pacific Ocean? How does it affect ocean life? Is it dangerous? And exactly how much is out there? A team of researchers went on a scientific expedition to find out. They explored the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where millions of pieces of plastic have collected. The plastic has drifted there from rivers, beaches, and ocean traffic all over the world. Most of it has broken down into tiny pieces the size of confetti. For nearly three weeks at sea, researchers gathered bits of plastic and ocean organisms. These samples helped them learn more about the effects of plastic in the ocean. Follow along on the expedition to find out how scientists studied the Garbage Patch—and what alarming discoveries they made.

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BOOK Vlad the Inhaler by Lorraine Mace

V

lad is different; he’s not a full vampire, he prefers peaches over blood, and he has asthma. But different doesn’t mean “bad.” Vlad’s evil relatives will stop at nothing to steal his inheritance and eliminate the asthmatic “hupyre” they despise. With new friends Rexus and Lisette, Vlad finds incredible courage to make a difference. www.littleronipublishers.com Available at Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and at Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

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

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ake an adventurefilled1866 wagontrain trip into the Old West! Native Americans on the warpath, early settlers, Civil War veterans, herds of buffalo and breathtaking nature along the Oregon Trail come to life in this first-hand account. In paperback, e-book and an audiobook perfect for family travel. Hear a sample or look inside the book. www.awakeningofthedesert.com Available at Amazon, Audible, and the iTunes Store.

Adalyn’s Clare by Kari Dunn Buron

The Illuminated Forest by Edwin Fontánez

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“FIVE STARS!” —ForeWord Clarion Reviews

heetahs and meerkats are some of the animals of Botswana, Africa. Did you know that? Adalyn does. Adalyn loves animals, geography and science, but so far hasn’t made any friends. School without friends can be a pretty scary place, but when Adalyn meets Clare everything changes, for everyone. Teacher Tips and Reviews available at: www.5pointscale.com www.aapcpublishing.net Available at Amazon.

“COMPELLING” —Kirkus Reviews 12-year-old Mateo returns to his grandparents’ island to deal with a family tragedy. From the moment he arrives, a series of terrifying events turn his world upside down. A stray cat with a mohawk, a ruthless town bully, and a lost ghost mysteriously come together and change his life forever. www.illuminatedforest.com, www.exitstudio.com Available at Amazon and Follett Library Resource.


BOOK The Ifs by J.D. Pooker

A

s brothers, Landon and Broden spend most of their day fighting with each other or plotting ways to get revenge. Then, strange things start happening. When a tiny, six-inch tall man asks them to help him fight a battle, they’ll have to learn how to work together. Can they face their fears and figure out what it takes to be brave? 

jdpooker.blogspot.com Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Those Who Hold the Threads by Joyce Allen

A

s she turns fourteen, Jane Smith learns she is something more ancient and much stranger than she had thought. And when she meets the boy who calls himself Adam Night, she also knows that she—and possibly all of Earth— face deadly risk.  Available in paperback and ebook versions. Read samples at www.joyceallenwords.com

www.joyceallenwords.com Available at Amazon and Smashwords.

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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.

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

A

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


BOOK A Boy Called Duct Tape by Christopher Cloud

If It’s to Be, It’s Up to Me by Jerry Goodwin

A

ablo Perez is so poor his sneakers are held together with duct tape. Pablo’s luck changes after he finds a $20 gold coin while swimming in a river near his home. Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the “lost treasure” of Jesse James.

n activity workbook based on the adventures of Jeremiah and his friend Joshua. The book orchestrates and questions one’s values, beliefs and morals while going through those growing pains that occur during the “wonder years” of junior high. The most important purpose of this book is to increase the awareness of the gift of choice. It also explains why rules in school prepare students for laws in life.

www.christophercloud.com Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

www.ifitstobe.net Available at Barnes and Noble.

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Doorway to Anywhere: The Mystifying Attic by T. Wrage illustrated by Christine Lanning

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oralee has an incredible imagination. Drift with her to the attic and become immersed in her imaginary world. In the story Doralee learns, perhaps there is a chance through her understanding of what could be, she might convey these ideas to others. This delightful children’s story will remind you what it is like to reenter your own childlike imagination. www.twrage.com Available at Amazon.

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Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


BOOK The Xidoran Prophecy by Elaine Bassett

C

harles discovers his grandparents have a secret. They belong to an elite society of time travelers. Over the summer, they teach him to Sojourn. He travels to other worlds and learns that he is destined for greatness. This story “succeeds in creating a place that is unlike those found in other stories… Imaginative in its construction of a fantastical world.” —Kirkus Reviews, December 2013 www.ElaineBassett.com Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the iBookstore. Five Angels by Carolann C. McGrath

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

Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta by Angie Kelly

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ia Cornell discovers her new foster family is a secret society that hunts lost art, artifacts, and supernatural objects, after unexpectedly getting sucked into their latest mission. But when a sinister enemy from her foster mother’s past puts them in grave danger, will Mia stand by her new family or cut and run when they need her most?

http://twitter.com/AngieKellyBks http://angiekelly.tumblr.com

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Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


BOOK The Piano Tuner’s Daughter by Ingrid Silvian

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hrough vignettes of the lives of two young girl friends— one Jewish, one Christian—in 1930s Nazi Germany, Silvian provides a child’s eye view of war, both mundane and profound—a shift from marbles to shrapnel as the treasure of choice; racing to catch the last train carrying evacuees out of the city—and ultimately, who was saved and who was sacrificed. www.thepianotunersdaughter.com Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and Xlibris. Karmark by J.C. Whyte

“I

REALLY LIKE THIS STORY! It’s not a fairy tale nor a myth but a fun and amusing adventure that reminds us that what goes around comes around...eventually...and sometimes with an even mightier THUNK than when the initial ‘hurt’ was carried out. A wonderful read that will entice readers of all ages, both male and female.” —Gina, Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers www.karmack.webs.com Available now in most ebook stores; coming to paperback soon! Available at Muse It Up Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Omnilit, and Bookstrand.

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer by Lisa Orchard

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n innocent game of Truth or Dare spins out of control when fifteen-year-old Sarah stumbles upon the corpse of a woman. The police discover her at the crime scene along with her sister Lacey and her friend Jackie. Taken into custody and accused of the crime, the girls decide to form the Super Spies and start their own investigation. Can they snare the Cat Lady Killer before it’s too late? FACEBOOK LINK TWITTER LINK www.lisaorchard.com Available at Astraea Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

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Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


character spotlight Gamers’ Quest by George Ivanoff Ford Street Publishing www.fordstreetpublishing.com

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ark and Zyra are teenaged thieves on a quest. In a world of magic and science, where dragons and mages exist alongside drones and lasers, they endeavor to reach the haven of Designers’ Paradise. But their world is not what it appears to be and their haven is about to come under threat of destruction. Can Tark and Zyra save Designers’ Paradise ... and their own world?

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Ages 10-14


inside the game anymore. We got out. The real world is now our world. Tark: But it’s not really what we expected. People are still playing games, and they is still telling us what to do. MS: How did the two of you meet? Middle Shelf: Hi Tark and Tark: We didn’t. Zyra, and welcome to Mid- Zyra: That’s right. We never dle Shelf. Can you tell us actually met. We’ve always a little about the world of been together. We were created as a team. the Gamers series? Tark: There is lots of worlds. Zyra: There are lots of worlds. MS: Who are the Designers? Tark: They is the dudes who Tark: Yeah, whatever. Zyra: We’re from The World, created the game. which is one of the environ- Zyra: They are the dudes— ments inside this massive the scientists who created the computer game created by game. Inside the game they the Designers. Our world are worshipped like gods. is a mix of magik and tech, Tark: But outside the game forest and city, ultra rich they is ... they are just dudes. and street trash, humans Zyra: And some of them are and mutants, dragons and a little crazy. cyborgs ... a world of contrasts. It was the first of MS: The trailer for Book II: the game environments. Gamers’ Challenge asks, But there are lots of other “Is it ever possible to truly environments. We’ve visited escape the game?” Can Suburbia, and a space bat- you answer that? tle environment, and a war Tark: No. Zyra: And Yes. zone and— Tark: And a desert world, Tark: Huh? and a steampunk world with Zyra: Yes, we can answer these giant robots and air- the question. No, it isn’t possible to truly escape the ships, and— Zyra: But we don’t live game. I mean, we got out.

But we’re still linked to it. It’s part of who we are. MS: How many books will there be in the series, and when does the next one come out? Tark: There are three books: Gamers’ Quest, Gamers’ Challenge and Gamers’ Rebellion, all published by Ford Street Publishing. Gamers’ Rebellion is the last book in the trilogy and finishes off our story. But now that the whole thing is over, the author, George Ivanoff, does admit to having thoughts about doing another one—a new story set many years after the events of the trilogy. Zyra: Right now, however, he’s concentrating on a new series of interactive books called You Choose, in which the reader gets to make decisions that influence the outcome of the story. Tark: Check it out!

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TEAK recommends

Ages 8-12 Teak Balena is 12 years old and in the 7th grade. His favorite books are The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. His other interests include chess and soccer. Teak wants to either be an architect or a lawyer. His dreams never end, and he is always looking for an adventure.

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Lost Children of the Far Islands by Emily Raabe

Random House Children’s Books www.randomhouse.com [Review] Illa, Gus, and Leo live a quiet, mediocre life. But not long after their mother becomes sick and ends up in the hospital, strange things start to happen. Their father seems to know what is going on but refuses to tell the truth. When he takes them to the far islands of Maine to meet their long lost grandmother, they discover that they and their mother have magical powers which they must now use to battle a mystical beast and save their mother’s life. Lost Children of the Far Islands was very entertaining and constantly kept me on my toes. It is about twin brothers, Leo and Gus, and their mute sister, Illa. These characters were always surprising me and are the reason I kept reading. I felt conflicted as to which one was my favorite because they were all so diverse and interesting. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I did!


LARA’S reads

Ages 12-17 Swim That Rock

by John Rocco & Jay Primiano www.roccoart.com Candlewick Press www.candlewickpress.com

[Review] Jake’s father suddenly goes missing.  Everyone thinks he’s dead, but Jake refuses to believe it.  His family owns a diner, but once his father goes missing, Jake has to save up money to keep the family business afloat. The reason why he needs money is because the land owners (loan sharks) are forcing them to pay or else their restaurant will be taken over.  Jake spends his time trying to find his dad and save the diner. But can he do it and find his father at the same time?  Swim That Rock is a fast-paced read.  It is action-packed and exciting, and has marvelous craftsmanship.  If you like mysteries, and boats, and captains, then this is the book for you!  Of course, even if you don’t like these things, it is still an amazing book. You will not be disappointed.  

Eleven-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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publisher’s corner

www.jollyfishpress.com

Trust us, even the traditionally “boring” departments are exciting when you’re publishing dreams.

How Jolly Fish Got Started

Jolly Fish Press (JFP) started in October 2011. It was started by a ragtag group from all areas of business: editing, design, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, technology, you name it. Although from diverse backgrounds, we were united by one important commonality: our love of books.

How Jolly Fish Got Its Name

tors. Although, we must admit, most of the names we had lined up were laughable. We were saved by one of the co-founder’s sons who drew a simple picture of a fish and suggested we use it as our logo. We fell in love with the idea and, with a lighthearted play on words we believe is wholly necessary in this serious industry, Jolly Fish Press was born.

We took our search for a suit- What Sets Jolly Fish able name quite seriously. We Apart from Other wanted it to both reflect our Publishers company’s culture and help us We could talk forever about difstand out among our competi- ferences in strategy, creative 46

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direction, and a whole slew of other mostly uninteresting topics, but it really boils down to one thing: author treatment. We make it our priority to maintain an unprecedented level of transparency with our authors. We strive to offer the highest royalties possible, and we’re even testing out a new royalty payment method that could revolutionize the way most authors are paid. With better author treatment, we hope to attract authors with quality manuscripts to our doors who would otherwise settle with an unfriendly publisher. We can’t please every author, but we sure will try!


The People Behind the Books

As a young publisher, we all wear many different hats. Surprisingly, we’ve found that this has helped harbor an incredibly creative environment. Christopher Loke heads our editorial and design departments. His son, at the ripe age of 6, illustrated the first draft of our logo. We have our eyes on him for a future illustrator position. Kirk Cunningham heads the publicity, marketing, and subrights departments, while Charlie Neo and Sherrie Lee take care of the exciting parts: technology and finances. Trust us, even the traditionally “boring” departments are exciting when you’re publishing dreams.

Current and Future Middle Grade releases.

We’re extremely selective with our Middle Grade books. We believe it’s one of the most important genres due to the impact it has on children. That said, we only release a select few titles each season in that genre. Currently, we’re preparing for the publication of Little Dead Riding Hood by Amie Borst & Bethanie Borst, mother-daughter co-authors with a whole lot of spunk and talent. It releases October 14, 2014, but if you’re eager to familiarize with their hilarious fairytale twists, take a look at Cinderskella. It’s available online and through most bookstores.

books to check out

Cinderskella by Amie Borst & Bethanie Borst ages 9 – 12

Little Dead Riding Hood by Amie Borst & Bethanie Borst ages 9-12

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S

indy is just a normal 11-and-three-quartersyear-old. At least until she wakes up one night and finds out she’s dead. Well, she isn’t technically dead—she just doesn’t have any hair...or a nose...or skin. Yep—all bones, no body. Human by day and skeleton by night, Cindy is definitely cursed. While facing such perils as pickled pig’s feet, a wacky fortune teller, and a few quick trips to the Underworld, Cindy’s determined to break the curse.

carlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being a 12-year-old vampire for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets, and tomato juice is out of control. In order to keep their vampire-secret, Scarlet’s parents resort to yet another move. At her new school, Scarlet not only has a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret.

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best

of the book blogs

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson Random House Children's Books Review by

THE HIDING SPOT

Ages 10-14

J

aleigh Johnson’s stand-alone debut is a fast-paced, magical middle grade fantasy novel. The novel also features some smart steampunk elements as well. There are [plenty of] female characters who excel at traditionally male roles in children’s literature, but I’m always happy to see more. In The Mark of the Dragonfly, Piper is a skilled mechanic, in part because of her innate ability, but also because she’s focused and a hard worker.  She’s smart and capable, surviving on her own in a harsh, unforgiving landscape after losing her parents. Piper dreams of seeing the world and finding success, but she stays true to herself and morals,

doing what she believes is right and choosing the difficult path over an easy but morally faulty alternative.  Another main character featured in the novel is Gee. He is one of the most interesting characters because his mystery is a bit more subtle than Anna’s and Piper’s. He and Piper clash in wonderful ways that highlight each character’s strengths and weaknesses. The Mark of the Dragonfly will be one of my new go-to recommendations for middle grade fantasy. The main trio of characters is diverse and works well together, and the world is well-developed. 

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 2014 48

MAY/JUNE 2014

GEO LIBRARIAN WALKING BRAIN CELLS

CHARLOTTE’S LIBRARY BOOKS FOR BOYS


The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler Dial Books Review by

BOOK DREAMING

I

Ages 8-12

’ve been caught in the fantasy genre for such a long time, I think I forgot what it was like to read a story with such real and familiar elements. The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is a wonderful story. The middle grade voice of Holly Schindler is equally as powerful and beautifully written as in her young adult novels. I loved it so much that when I finished, I gave it to my daughter to read. She loved it too, which is a big deal since she primarily reads animal and dragon stories right now and needed to be convinced to give this book a chance. Once I told her about Auggie

and her grandpa, though, she was all in. Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time she read a book that had people as the main characters! I loved Auggie. She is spunky and brilliant and creative and full of all things delightful. The relationships between Auggie and her grandpa and the neighbors and the “Beautification Committee” are powerful and full of subtle lessons about what’s truly important in life and what “true beauty” is all about. I highly recommend this book for fans of all genres and readers of all ages because Auggie should be met and loved by everyone! 

CARNIVAL OF CHILDREN’S YOUTH LITERATURE REVIEWS WELCOME TO MY (NEW) TWEENDOM LITERATURE DEB A. MARSHALL LIBRARY CHICKEN >>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com SHER A. HART 49


on our shelf

Lord and Lady Bunny: Almost Royalty by Polly Horvath Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Bones by John Wilson

Random House Children’s Books

www.johnwilsonauthor.com

ages 8 – 12

www.pollyhorvath.com

I

n this darling sequel to Mr. and Mrs. Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire! Madeline and the Bunnys find themselves on a wild summer vacation in Bellyflop, England. Panicked about how she’ll finance college, Madeline and her hilariously hippie parents head across the pond to make their fortune at their newly inherited candy shop. Coincidentally, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are abroad as well, looking to find their next adventure overseas. Sure to inspire giggles, Lord and Lady Bunny reaches a charming new level of children’s book absurdity.

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MAY/JUNE 2014

Orca Books

ages 9 – 13

E

xcitement rises when Sam and Annabel learn that the dinosaur skull unearthed on a local commune might actually be an important discovery of a “smart” dinosaur. Student researcher Greg posts daily pictures of the dig on his personal blog. Little do they know that a nefarious collector of fossils has taken an interest in his posts. Bones is a fun, fast-paced adventure that young readers will enjoy. The author does a great job at including scientific information in an exciting way. Sam and Annabel make a great team, and their characters are relatable. I found Sam’s jealousy of Annabel and Greg’s relationship funny and yet poignantly true to age level. Overall, a great story that boys and girls will love.


The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

Wind Dancer by Chris Platt

Penguin Young Readers

Peachtree

ages 10 -13

ages 8 – 12

T

W

www.tracyholczer.com racy Holczer’s story begins with a heart-wrenching loss for young Grace. After her mother drowns in a river, she moves in with her estranged grandmother who she’s come to believe must be a bad person. Grace has to discover the truth about her mother and grandmother’s history for herself before finally settling into where she truly belongs. The Secret Hum of a Daisy has a sort of lullaby quality to it, reminiscent of Kathryn Erksine’s Mockingbird, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May. Grace’s story tugs at the heartstrings. By the time it ends, Grace, Grandma, Jo and the other characters will feel like old friends. A very strong debut from a promising new author.

www.chrisplattbooks.com hen Ally reports her neighbor’s two neglected horses to the authorities, little does she know that their rehabilitation will become her responsibility. Ally isn’t sure she’s ready to care for any horse again since she is still grappling with the tragic death of her own beloved horse. But she reluctantly agrees to take them on, and soon her heart begins to soften. The horses don’t just help her, however. They also have a healing effect on Ally’s older brother, Danny, who lost a leg in the Afghanistan war and is now struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chris Platt tells Ally and Danny’s story with surprising tenderness and an impressive depth of knowledge. Wind Dancer is a touching story of second chances. 51


poetry

In early 1942, thirteen-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy?

OCTOBER 1942 Dust of Eden by Mariko Nagai www.mariko-nagai.com Albert Whitman & Co.

Ages 9-13

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MAY/JUNE 2014

Dust enters during the night like a thief, leaving mounds of sand in all corners of the room where the wind left it, leaving mounds like graves, even on top of us, burying us while we were asleep. Dust enters through our noses and mouths while we are asleep, when we talk, when we breathe, in this place just a few miles away from Eden, where they know nothing of our lives, where they know nothing of the people who live behind the machine guns and barbed wires, buried in sand each and every morning.


MAY 1943 The way to school is dusty, a long dusty stretch of road that goes from north to south, an exacting compass that stretches in a straight line, made by men whose intentions were clear, sure. The way to school is unforgiving. When it rains, the road becomes kneedeep with mud, and when it dries, forget yesterday’s rain. Forget about moisture. Tumbleweeds own the streets, rolling after us like dogs barking, hurrying us to school. Getting to school takes twenty minutes; it’s one straight line, both sides adorned with never-ending barracks, windows, eyes looking at us. The way to school is always the same: yesterday, tomorrow, today, next year, maybe forever.

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LAST WORDS

We’ll have the best chance of succeeding if we stay together. —from Horizon by Jenn Reese

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MAY/JUNE 2014


NEW BOOKS

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


may/june 2014

contributors ADLER, IRENE Irene Adler is the pen name for Alessandro Gatti. Born in Alexandria, Gatti currently lives in Turin. Gatti has written several children’s books that have been published in Italy, including Sherlock, Lupin and Me. 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 is her first middle grade novel. BLY, SCOTT Scott Bly has been a computer consultant in Los Angeles for over a decade. He has also taught computer classes and developed interactive educational games for elementary and middle schoolaged children. Smasher is Bly’s debut novel. CONSTANCE, WENDY Winner of the 2013 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition, Essex native Constance began her career writing short stories for women’s magazines. Though none were published, they gave her a chance to develop her craft. Brave is her debut novel.

DOWNEY, JENNIFER SWANN Downey’s non-fiction pieces have appeared in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Women’s Day and other publications. Jen loves libraries and will never stop looking for lickable wallpaper. The Ninja Librarians is her debut middle grade novel. DUE, RICHARD Moonbeam Children’s Book Award recipient Due is a bookseller and author of the children’s fantasy tale The Moon Coin. FIEDLER, LISA Lisa Fiedler is the author of several novels for children and teens. She divides her time between Connecticut and the Rhode Island seashore, where she lives happily with her very patient husband, her brilliant and beloved daughter, and their two incredibly spoiled golden retrievers. GEBHART, RYAN Resident of Ohio, Gebhart was inspired to write his debut middle grade novel There Will Be Bears while working on a hunting ranch in the Grand Tetons.

GROCHOWSKI, SARA Grochowski reviews books for children and CUNNINGHAM, KIRK teens on her blog, The Hiding Spot. She will Cunningham is the Head Publicist of the Utah- soon be in grad school working towards her based small publisher Jolly Fish Press, which Library Science degree with a Youth Services has released more than two dozen titles for teens focus. She lives in Michigan where she works and children since it opened in 2012. in a public library and manages an independent bookstore. DORMAN, BRANDON Graduate of Brigham Young University Idaho, HENDERSON, RAECHEL Dorman has illustrated hundreds of books and Henderson started Eggplant Literary Productions magazines, including the best-selling picture in 1997 with Jackhammer E-zine.   She worked book The Wizard, the Fablehaven series, and for nine years building Eggplant into a respectGoosebumps. He loves spending time with his able small electronic press, which now produces wife and three sons. the middle grade fantasy E-zine Spellbound.

cool reads for cool kids.


may/june 2014

contributors HETHERINGTON, SANDS Hetherington’s book Night Buddies, Imposters and One Far-Out Flying Machine won the 2014 Readers’ Views Reviewers Award. HOLCZER, TRACY California native Holczer enjoyed camping and writing blood curdling stories as a child. Now she is a mother of three children and still loves to write. The Secret Hum of a Daisy is her first published novel.

MAIHACK, MIKE Maihack is a graduate from the Columbus College of Art and Design and spends his time drawing pictures of cats, superheroes, space girls or just about anything else he can think of that might involve rayguns or serving tea.

McQUERRY, MAUREEN DOYLE McQuerry’s published works include Beyond the Door; The Peculiars, a YASLA, Bank Street, Horn Book and Westchester YA best  book;   Nuclear Legacy, an Independent Publisher’s Award winHORVATH, POLLY ner; and numerous poems in literary journals. Horvath’s books for children have won awards in The Telling Stone is due out this fall. both the United States and Canada, including a Newbery Honor, National Book Award, and the NAGAI, MARIKO Toronto-Dominion Canadian Children’s Award. Born in Tokyo and raised in Europe and America, Her books have been translated into over twenty- Nagai has received numerous honors including five languages. the Pushcart Prizes both in poetry and fiction. She is an Associate Professor of creative writIVANOFF, GEORGE ing and Japanese literature at Temple University, Stay-at-home dad and Australia native Ivanoff Japan Campus in Tokyo. has written over 70 books for children and teens. His science fiction novel, Gamers’ Quest, won a NEWMAN, PATRICIA 2010 Chronos Award for speculative fiction. His Graduate of Cornell University, Newman spent latest series of books, the interactive You Choose time as a teacher, computer programmer and series, will hit the shelves in May 2014. Cornell’s Assistant Director before becoming a parent and writer. She has published many magJOHNSON, JALEIGH azine articles and more than a dozen books for Raised in the Midwest, Johnson has written five children including Plastic Ahoy! novels for the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms fiction line. The Mark of the Dragonfly is O’DONNELL, SHANNON her first book for middle grade readers.   In her O’Donnell has a master’s degree in Education and spare time she enjoys gaming, gardening and teaches high school English in Montana, where she going to movies with her husband. live with her husband and three children. She is the author of two picture books and a middle grade JONES, MARIE D. novel, and has a blog called Book Dreaming. Jones is a best-selling author, screenwriter, researcher and public speaker. Marie’s first novel, EKHO: Evil PETERSEN, SHERRIE Kid Hunting Organization, written with her son, Max In addition to writing middle grade novels, PetersJones, is the first of several novels she will have en moonlights as a graphic designer, substitute published, including Freak and Gridwalkers. teacher, freelance writer, school newspaper advi-

cool reads for cool kids.


may/june 2014

contributors sor, yearbook advisor and mother of two children. Wish You Weren’t is her first published novel. PLATT, CHRIS One of the first female jockeys in Oregon, Platt is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books for young readers. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, and specializes in writing about horses. Wind Dancer is her most recent release. RAABE, EMILY Raabe grew up in Vermont and now lives in New York City, where she teaches writing. She is a poet and the author of numerous nonfiction books for children. Lost Children of the Far Islands is her first novel.

six children, she reviews books on her blog, The Write Path, and writes middle grade and young adult fantasy. The Emerald Ring and The Ruby Pendant are her first published novels. WHITE, J. A. J.A. White lives in New Jersey with his wife, three sons, and a hamster named Ophelia that doesn’t like him very much. When he’s not making up stories, he teaches a bunch of kids how to make up stories (along with math and science and other important stuff).   WHITESIDES, TYLER Growing up, Tyler Whitesides would do extra chores if his mom would type his stories on the computer. He has worked as a music teacher, firework shooter, taste tester, and janitor. He currently resides in Utah is the author of the popular children’s fantasy series Janitors.

REESE, JENN Reese writes science fiction and fantasy adventure stories for readers of all ages. Her first novel, Jade Tiger, is an action-adventure kung fu romance for adults. She also designs book covers and is WILLIAMS, MAIYA obsessed with martial arts. She studied kempo, Williams was editor and vice president of the kung fu and Tai Chi for a total of twelve years. Harvard Lampoon and a writer/producer for TV shows including Rugrats, The Fresh Prince of ROCCO, JOHN Bel-Air, and Mad TV.  She is the author of a time Rocco is the author of four books for children and travel trilogy that includes The Golden Hour, Hour also illustrated the covers for Rick Riordan‘s best- of the Cobra, and Hour of the Outlaw. selling series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus. WILSON, JOHN Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Wilson grew up SCHINDLER, HOLLY without the slightest idea that he would ever Schindler dove headfirst into writing after earn- write books. After a degree in geology from St. ing a Master’s degree in English and while teach- Andrews University, he worked in Zimbabwe and ing piano and guitar lessons. Her first two books, Alberta before taking up writing full-time. He has A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt, are young adult written nearly two dozen books for kids. titles. The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is her first middle grade book. Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX WHITE, DORINE 75085. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group White graduated from Brigham Young Univer- LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfsity Provo with a B.A in Humanities. A mother of mediagroup.com to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.


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Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids May/June 2014