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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

FEATURING

CORNELIA FUNKE SHANNON MESSENGER JASON CHAN Around the World The Goddess Girls Cedar Fort Publishing


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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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Illustration: The Dreamosphere by Laura Stoddard

COOL READS FOR KIDS


Available at

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UP S . WW

S ER

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NIC

E Y L F

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M O .C s5 e g a For

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

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


november/december 2014 contents

DEPARTMENTS 4

a word from the editor

14

themed books: around the world

18

cool reads for cool kids

34 novelty

6

cornelia funke interview with the author of Emma and the Blue Genie

10

shannon messenger interview with the author of Keeper of the Lost Cities

12

debut author interview with edith cohn

26

under the covers with artist jason chan

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character spotlight a visit with aphrodite from The Goddess Girls

Images from Spirit’s Key by Edith Cohn and Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Funke.

35

graphic novel

36

non-fiction

42

teak & lara’s reviews

44

publisher’s corner

46

best of the book blogs

48

on our shelf

50

poetry

52

last words

54

contributors

On the cover: Illustration by Jason Chan from Keeper of the Lost Cities: Everblaze by Shannon Messenger


a word from the

editor

I

love autumn. I love the way the leaves turn from green to red and gold, and the feel of a cool wind on my face. When I was a child, I lived in the mountains in a log house my father built with his own hands. It had usually snowed by Thanksgiving, and the autumn and winter months were spent either playing outdoors in the snow or snuggled with a good book near the wood-burning stove. I still love to read on chilly nights with a candle burning on the mantle—to remind me of those cozy evenings from years ago. This issue of Middle Shelf Magazine hosts many wonderful new books just perfect for quiet, autumn nights. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite authors, Cornelia Funke, and asked if she’d be willing to do an interview for Middle Shelf. I’m so happy that Ms. Funke is our special guest this issue, talking about her new book, Emma and the Blue Genie. I’m equally happy that Shannon Messenger is here to introduce the third book in her Keeper of the Lost Cities series. Jason Chan, the series’ cover artist, also gives us a glimpse under the covers of Everblaze. As always, there is something for everyone here—excerpts, reviews, an interview with Aphrodite of The Goddess Girls series, stories from around the world, and so much more! So, pick a good book, snuggle up in front of the fireplace, and enjoy! 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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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014


“Perfect for the Holidays!” THE REINDEER CHRONICLES By Michael McWade

THE GREEN SCARF Book I of The Reindeer Chronicles Ever wonder how Santa’s “other” Reindeer came to pull his sleigh? Meet the young Dasher, Dancer Prancer & Vixen; Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen as they begin their quest to become one of Santa’s flying reindeer! This delightful story will capture your child’s attention as they meet new friends and follow along with their adventures. 2-time Award winner: Honorable Mention from the L.A. and Midwest 2013 Children’s Book Festivals

SUMMER CAMP Book II of The Reindeer Chronicles Reindeer – they’re not just for Christmas anymore. So before our young Reindeer friends head off to Flight School in the Fall, it’s time for Summer Camp. Follow them as they develop their own unique looks, styles and personalities. Summer Camp will allow children to grow along with the young Reindeer. It will entertain as well as provide parents and their children a vehicle to discuss valuable young adult “Life” issues together. Runner-up: San Francisco Book Festival as one of the best children’s books of 2014!

Available at Trafford, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble websites.

WWW.MICHAELMCWADE.COM


feature

author interview

Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Funke www.corneliafunke.com

Ages 7-10

Cornelia Funke

C

ornelia Funke, the beloved international bestseller of Inhkeart, Dragon Rider, Igraine the Brave and many more books for young readers, talks about her new release, traveling the world, and magical wishes. 6

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Random House Children’s Books


Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Cornelia. Emma and the Blue Genie was originally published in Germany and is now available in the United States. Tell us a little about it. Funke: I wrote the book for my German illustrator Kerstin Meyer, as I had LOVED her illustrations for Princess Pigsty and The Pirate Pig. As a thank you, I told her I’d write any story she always wanted to illustrate. So in a way, I granted her a wish—like genies do. She asked for a 1001 Arabian Nights story, which I was thrilled to write. The camel and the flying carpet were, I think, inspired by a puppet show I loved as a child. And the tattooed grandmother echoes an encounter my husband once had in Morocco. There is, of course, a dog (as I love dogs), and a girl who deals with too many brothers—something with three classical musicians, and I just that we all can imagine very well, I guess. published a Sherlock Holmes story in my friend Les Klinger’s anthology on Holmes. MS: If you found a genie, what would (Of course, I HAD to write that in English.) you wish for? Funke: A flying carpet, a dog that lives MS: I’ve heard you write your manuforever, and hmmmmmm. I have to think scripts by hand. Is that true? If so, why? about the third wish! Funke: Yes, I write the first draft by hand into A4 Moleskine notebooks. Then I MS: You were born in Germany. Do you transfer the text onto computer, which write your books in German? makes the 2nd draft, and glue a print-out Funke: Yes, I still do. But now I write short into the next notebook to correct by hand. stories in English and vastly enjoy that. I I started this while on vacation in Madawrote several for MirrorWorld, the App I gascar with my kids. It felt stupid to carry produced myself. I wrote Angelheart in a computer around, but as I am addicted English, a short story recorded by Jer- to writing, I brought a big notebook…and emy Irons inspired by a collaboration I loved to sit under the African sun with Photography: Gillian Crane

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lemurs climbing in the trees above me, writing on paper with a proper pen. Since then, I am enchanted by writing this way. I have filled more than 30 notebooks. It makes my process far more playful. I always gathered ideas on paper, but to see how my stories emerge and take shape in these books is magical. I add images, sketches, comments, clippings. They are currently even in an exhibition, and to watch my readers look at the books is the most enchanting experience. I think we all wish for tangible things while the world dissolves into virtual realities. We need to create—it’s a deeply human longing, and we leave something behind that others can look at and learn from without having to use an electronic tool and maybe one day a software that doesn’t decipher the source anymore!

Germany, Russia, India, New Zealand… each country I visit explains the world to me in a new way and reminds me of its magnificence and endless sources of inspiration. My travels also remind me that my books are at home in places I have never seen and that my characters live in many countries long before I arrive. I want to be a storyteller for the world, and I find this task to be especially important in times like these where war and racism raise their heads in so many places. MS: You’ve called fantasy “the oldest way of storytelling.” What fantasy stories have you loved? Funke: Narnia, Tolkien’s work, Michael Ende, Astrid Lindgren…and my favorite book of all times is T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.

MS: Out of the 20+ books you’ve written, MS: What are some of your favorite coun- which characters are most like you? tries that you have visited? How have Funke: Fox from the MirrorWorld books your travels influenced your stories? comes quite close, but I am also in Elinor Funke: Oh, it’s very hard to choose. Italy and Fenoglio from Inkheart, I am Igraine has inspired many of my books. Scotland the Brave, I am Hetty Hyssop from the makes my head hum with hundreds of Ghosthunter books, I am Ida in The stories. England, France, Spain, Sweden, Thief Lord, and sometimes I am Jacob

“Each country I visit explains the world to me in a new way.” 8

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014


Reckless. I am the dragon, I am Robert Dunbar in Fearless…yes, I guess I am most of them, though I usually do not identify with my villains. I mostly despise them and look forward to killing them. MS: Do you plan to create a middle

grade App like you did with MirrorWorld? Funke: Yes, we have the story ready to go. It will be a sequel to Dragon Rider. We will start production this month, and it will probably take a year. I can’t wait to work on it! We have many, many magical ideas already.

“We need to create—it’s a deeply human longing.” 9


feature

author interview

Shannon Messenger

I

n this nail-biting third book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must fight the flames of rebellion before they destroy everyone and everything she loves.

Middle Shelf: Okay, Shannon, so how many cats do you own? Messenger: Wow, you go right into the embarrassing questions, don’t you? But I’ll own my crazy cat lady status and admit I have six. They’re all rescues, if that makes it any better. Their names are Theo, Dottie, Marty, Patrick, Darcy, and Melody Pond. MS: How did you discover you were a storyteller? Messenger: Growing up, I was much more interested in art than writing. But I’d get frustrated because I couldn’t always make the scene in my head show up on the page. By the time I got to college, I had to admit that my artistic talents had their limits. So I dropped art and took a class called “Broadcast Writing and Production.” And yeah, I’ll admit, part of the reason I chose that class was because it sounded like I’d get college credit for watching TV. But for our final assignment we had to write a complete script. And as 10

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Everblaze Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 2 by Shannon Messenger www.ramblingsofawannabescribe.com

Ages 8-12 Aladdin


I worked my way through that project, I finally found a way to get the stories in my head to show up on the page. MS: How did your experience working in Hollywood influence your books? Messenger: Well, mostly what I learned in Hollywood was that I really didn’t fit in. But some of my screenwriting training has definitely been a huge help—especially when it comes to pacing and dialogue. I also learned a lot about plot structure and how to really push the story in ways I never would’ve thought to go on my own. So hopefully, the experience made me a better writer. MS: In the Keeper of the Lost Cities trilogy, Sophie is a telepath. If you could have a magical power, what would it be? Messenger: Ha, it’s funny. My answer actually used to be Telepath. But now that I’ve become a published author, my answer has changed to TELEPORTING! I have to travel a lot for events, and I’m  not a fan of airplanes. Or airport security. Or pretty much any part of the travel process. So it would be amazing to teleport wherever I want to go. I’d never have to pack a suitcase, or sleep in uncomfortable hotel beds, or worry about traffic. I could go anywhere I wanted for the day and come back home at night to snuggle with the furbabies.

Giminano, which is a tiny Medieval town in Tuscany, Italy. The town has changed very little over the centuries, and walking the streets felt like being on a movie set (I would say time traveling, but the modern cars kind of ruined things). And the restrooms we had to use? Now those were an adventure. But I’ll spare you that story.

MS: Are you working on any other middle grade books? Messenger: I’m currently writing book four of Keeper of the Lost Cities, which will be coming out in the fall of 2015. I also play around sometimes with another middle grade book I really love, so hopefully once I catch up on some deadlines, I’ll have time MS: What is the most “different” place to finish that up. Middle grade definitely you’ve ever visited? has a soft spot in my heart, so I plan to Messenger: I guess I’d have to say San keep writing it for a very long time. 11


feature

debut author interview

Edith Cohn

T

welve-year-old Spirit Holden should have inherited the family gift: the ability to see the future. But when she holds a house key in her hand like her dad does to read its owner’s destiny, she can’t see anything. Maybe it’s because she can’t get over the loss of her beloved dog, Sky, who died mysteriously.

Middle Shelf: What was your inspiration for Spirit’s Key? Cohn: The fictional setting of Bald Island is deeply inspired by the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I grew up going to the Banks, but I also read a lot of history about their hurricanes, whaling, and one room schoolhouse. And it seems so unreal, but the islanders’ belief that yaupon tea can cure anger actually comes from something real that I read about. Of course, I took fictional liberties. I decided my island would have wild dogs instead of wild horses like the real Outer Banks. I live in the hills of California, and I have coyotes in my backyard. They want to eat my little dog, Leia. Every spot12

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Spirit’s Key by Edith Cohn www.edithcohn.wordpress.com

Ages 9-12 Farrar, Straus & Giroux


ting takes my breath away—reminds me of our mortality, the wonder of nature, and what it means to be a wild thing.  Also at the time, my niece was trying to decide if she wanted to be a vegetarian or not. I got to thinking about how kids are still figuring out what they believe. One of my favorite things about Spirit’s Key is this discussion about animal rights and beliefs.  MS: Were any of the characters based on real people or animals? Cohn: Yes. Another huge inspiration was a dog named Marisol who went missing. Marisol belonged to my dear friend, and I helped her search the city for her lost pet. I saw Marisol everywhere, even though it was never really her. It was kind of like seeing her ghost, which led me to the idea of a ghost dog. I also have a dog of my own, and I like imagining that while my dog won’t live forever, maybe her spirit will come back to play with me! As for people, in my research on the Outer Banks, I read about an islander who was a hermit and wore furs, which inspired the agoraphobic, fur-wearing, trigger-happy neighbor, Mrs. Borse.

I still make collars for my own pup and my friends’ dogs as a way to relax. I also love making jewelry—especially key necklaces!

MS: Name one book set somewhere you’d like to visit, and why. Cohn: I recently read The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. It is set in a futuristic Brazil, a city that “shimmers with tech and tradition” called Palmares Tres. It was an amazing world to live in for 289 pages. I’d love to see the artistic light shows described in the book. But it also MS: What hobbies do you enjoy besides made me want to visit the real Brazil. writing? Cohn: A while back, I went through a MS: What is your favorite writing snack? period of frustration with my writing, and Cohn: Right now it is Kind bars—specifiI taught myself to sew. I started a dog cally the chocolate with sea salt bar. I love collar business for fancy pups called But- them because they are fast to eat, not terPups. The business is closed now, but messy, and I can just keep on writing. 13


themed books:

AROUND THE WORLD Arcady’s Goal by Eugene Yelchin Henry Holt www.eugeneyelchinbooks.com

ages 9-12

F

rom Newbery Honor– winning author Eugene Yelchin comes another glimpse into Soviet Russia. For twelve-year-old Arcady, soccer is more than just a game. Sent to live in a children’s home after his parents are declared enemies of the state, it is a means of survival, securing extra rations, respect, and protection. Ultimately, it proves to be his chance to leave. But in Soviet Russia, second chances are few and far between. Will Arcady seize his opportunity and achieve his goal? Or will he miss his shot?

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Chesca and the Spirit of Grace by Lara O’Brien Lara O’Brien Publishing www.laraobrien.com

ages 8-12

11

-year-old Chesca O’Brien, Howth’s greatest (and only) Trick Rider, plans to ride Malley, the farm’s wild stallion, and put on a show no one will forget—especially show jumping champion, Mary Murphy. But then her Ma gets sick and Da stops talking, which leaves the farmyard wide open to all kinds of problems. Inspired by Ireland’s most famous Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley, Chesca must take on the might of a developer, rally a town, and fight the fight of her life to save all she holds dear.


AROUND THE WORLD Call Me Ixchel

The Red Pencil

by Janie Havemeyer

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Goosebottom Books www.goosebottombooks.com

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers www.andreadavispinkney.com

ages 8–12

I

xchel, Mayan Goddess of the Moon, is a spunky young goddess throwing lightning bolts with her friends until she meets and falls in love with the God of the Sun. Their tempestuous relationship leads to many colorful adventures, including an elopement across the Milky Way, a visit to the underworld, and a sojourn with the Vulture King. But can the sun and the moon stay together? Told by Ixchel in the first person, this lively book gives young readers a unique entry into the world of Mayan mythology.

ages 9-12

F

inally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala—Amira’s one true dream. But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey—on foot—to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind—and all kinds of possibilities.

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themed books:

AROUND THE WORLD Revenge on the Fly by Sylvia McNicoll Pajama Press, Inc. www.sylviamcnicoll.com

ages 8-12

I

n 1912, twelve-year-old William Alton sails with his Dad on the Empress of Ireland bound for new opportunities in Canada, leaving behind the graves of his mom and baby sister. A job for Dad, an education for Will, and no more disease! Unfortunately, another baby on board the ship succumbs to summer complaint, and Uncle Charlie falls ill with typhoid; why does everyone get sick and die? On Will’s second day in school, the city health officer, Dr. Roberts, gives him the answer. One tiny little insect spreads germs and death. Will and his classmates declare war on the fly.

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Children Growing Up with War by Jenny Matthews Candlewick Press www.candlewick.com

ages 10+

I

n conflict zones around the world, children are denied basic rights. Follow photographer Jenny Matthews into refugee camps, overcrowded cities, damaged villages, clinics, and support centers where children and their families live, work, play, learn, heal, and try to survive the devastating impact of war. This moving book depicts the resilience and resourcefulness of young people who, though heavily impacted by the ravages of war, search for a better future for themselves, their families, and their cultures. Through personal narrative and candid photographs, Matthews chronicles young lives upended by violence and strife.


AROUND THE WORLD Mikis and the Donkey

Lucky Me

by Bibi Dumon Tak

by Cindy Callaghan

Eerdmans www.eerdmans.com

Aladdin www.cindycallaghan.com

ages 8-12

ages 9-13

O

ne day, Mikis’s grandfather has a surprise for him: a new donkey! Mikis falls in love with the creature, but his grandparents tell him that the donkey is a working animal, not a pet. However, they still let Mikis choose her name— Tsaki—and allow the two of them to spend their Sundays together. Mikis and Tsaki soon become fast friends, and together the two have some grand adventures. Eventually, both Mikis and his grandfather learn a bit more about what exactly it means to care for another creature.

A

fter breaking a chain letter, can superstitious Megan find a way to turn her luck around? Meghan McGlinchey is the most superstitious girl in her family—and probably in the entire state of Delaware. When she receives a chain letter from a stranger in Ireland, Meghan immediately passes it on, taking only a tiny shortcut in the directions. But after a disastrous day, made complete by losing the election for class president and embarrassing herself in front of the entire school, Meghan realizes that tiny shortcut was a big mistake. Thankfully, her family was already headed to Ireland on spring break, and Meghan makes it her mission to find the original sender and break her extremely unlucky streak. With the help of an eccentric cast of characters—and one very cute Irish boy—can Meghan figure out a way to stop her bad luck? Or is she cursed forever?

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excerpts

COOL READS FOR

1

2

FANTASY

CONTEMPORARY

3

COOL

KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.

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SCIENCE FICTION 18

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

5

HUMOR

6

MYSTERY

HISTORICAL


1

fantasy

Ages 8-12 Bewitched in Oz by Laura J. Burns Capstone Press | www.capstonepub.com

V

ashti took a deep breath and stared at the shiny red apple in her palm. Slowly, it lifted into the air and began to float an inch above Vashti’s hand. Zerie shot Tabitha an excited look. This was the biggest thing Vashti had ever levitated! “Can you do it without your hand there?” Tabitha asked, her whole body visible now. Vashti didn’t take her eyes off the apple, but she dropped her hand a tiny, tiny bit. The apple wobbled and Zerie had to bite her lip to keep from crying out. But Vashti steadied the apple and then continued to lower her hand, a little at a time, until her hand was at her side and the apple was just floating there all by itself. “Zerie,” Tabitha whispered. “Use your talent. Make it spin.” “What? How?” Zerie asked. Tabitha reached out and turned the apple gently by its stem. Vashti’s eyes grew wide, but she managed to keep it in the air. “If you make it move faster and faster, it will keep spinning,” Tabitha said. So Zerie concentrated as hard as she could, picturing the shiny red fruit spinning around again and again and again. Faster and faster. The apple kept moving, twirling in midair. Zerie felt a grin break out on her face, and she had a feeling that her friends were smiling, too, though she didn’t dare move her gaze away from the apple.

Somebody gasped. The apple fell. “What was that?” Tabitha cried, turning toward where the gasp had come from. “Did you two see anything?” The trees had no branches this far down, so nothing was moving. Nothing was out of place. Still, Zerie couldn’t shake the feeling that something had been standing between two of the tall red trunks. Bewitched in Oz. Copyright © 2014 by Laura J. Burns. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 19


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contemporary

Ages 8-12 My Cousin’s Keeper by Simon French Candlewick Press | www.candlewick.com

W

e’re brothers, we are. That’s what he had said. Suddenly, his arm was around my shoulder as we knelt together on my bedroom floor, surrounded by most of my toys. He had looked up at my mom as she held her camera to take the photo, and that’s exactly what came out of his mouth when the camera flash went off. In the photo, he was smiling, although his eyes didn’t seem to. In the photo, my mouth was open and I looked a little surprised. In truth, I remembered being angry. This boy, who I didn’t know, had snuck away from everybody else in our backyard and found my bedroom. He had found all my toys as well, and by the time I discovered him, nearly everything I liked and played with was spread across my bedroom. “This is my room,” I had told him. “Leave my things alone!” And I had knelt down to start gathering up my favorite things. Mom had appeared in the doorway at that moment and taken the photo, not realizing how annoyed I was. Afterward, I had shaken the boy’s arm away from my shoulder and said in amazement, “I’m not your brother. I don’t even know you.” “You should have asked Kieran first,” Mom told the boy gently. “This is Kieran’s room, and these are his things.” And to me, she added, “Is there something you

don’t mind him playing with, Kieran?” Then she reminded me who this stranger was. It was Bon, my cousin. “He’s our guest, and I want you to look after him a little,” Mom instructed. But I didn’t want him in my room, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near him. He had said something completely strange and untrue. He had even hugged me. My Cousin’s Keeper. Copyright © 2014 by Simon French. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press.

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3

science fiction

Ages 8-12 Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds by Dale Kutzera Salmon Bay Books | www.dalekutzera.com

O

ne glimpse of the slithering metal arms spurred Andy forward. Charlie faltered, stunned at the sight, but Andy caught her and pulled her on. They easily passed the gasping Lance and red-faced Ben. The tripod was over the faltering boys in two thundering steps. One tentacle wrapped itself around Ben’s waist, hoisting him into the air, his legs still pumping. Another knocked Lance to the ground and plucked him up by the legs. Andy and Charlie ran on, cutting through the Garcia’s yard and around the corner, passing Reggie who staggered and stumbled. Before he hit the pavement, however, a silver tentacle caught him and carried him into the air. Hide, Andy thought. Where can we hide? He knew the cars on the street offered little protection. Could they get into a house? His legs ached and his lungs burned. They couldn’t run forever. He could see the exhaustion on Charlie’s face. Straight ahead, a large storm drain was cut into a sidewalk curb. This was not a small drain with a metal grate, but a large person-sized opening designed to swallow the great torrents of water generated by winter storms and spring thaws. “Charlie! The drain!” Andy yelled, pointing to it. She was slowing, her face slack and dripping sweat. Andy ran to the drain and dove toward the opening. He scrambled and slid headfirst into the cement tunnel beneath

the sidewalk, then reached back toward Charlie. She dove toward him. He grabbed her hands and pulled. Something held her back. “Don’t let go,” she gasped. “Don’t let go.” They clutched at each other, but the tentacle holding her leg was too strong. “Andy,” she whispered. And then she was gone. Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds. Copyright © 2014 by Dale Kutzera. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Salmon Bay Books.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21


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humor

Ages 8-12 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 by Catherine Austen Lorimer | www.catherineausten.com

W

hen the school bell rang at 3:15, the new grade six teacher at Lord Nelson Elementary jumped up and shouted, “Hallelujah!” He attacked the wall calendar with a black marker, destroying Friday, September 8th. “One week down, only thirty-five to go! Get moving, boys and girls!” Mr. Papadakis had an old man’s name, a young man’s body, and an even younger man’s mind. On the upside, he played in a punk rock band and knew that “5K8” was pronounced “skate.” On the downside, he texted during class time and his favourite saying was, “Sucks to be you.” In the back row of desks, Dave Davidson struggled to fit two binders, one lunch box, two library books, an agenda, a water bottle, a frisbee, and a sweatshirt into his schoolbag. “I miss Ms. Samson,” he sighed. “Me too,” Eric Leung said from the desk beside him, as he hurriedly slipped sixty-four coloured pencils into individual compartments of his art box. Ms. Samson’s friendly voice drifted out of the grade five classroom across the hall, saying, “Take your time, boys and girls. Make sure you have everything you need for the weekend.” At the front of their own classroom, Mr. Papadakis clapped and shouted, “Yo, just stuff your things in your packs and go! Tell your parents my band is playing at the Sugar Shack tonight. And don’t leave

without these.” He shoved an orange sheet of paper into each student’s hand as they filed into the hallway. “You’re advertising your punk band to sixth graders?” exclaimed Taz Santos. Mr. Papadakis waved the stack of papers and laughed. “What, this? No, this is some school thing. See you Monday!” 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6. Copyright © 2014 by Catherine Austen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lorimer.

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mystery

Ages 8-12 Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest by Tamra Wight, Carl DiRocco (illustrator) Islandport Press | www.islandportpress.com

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s the four of us started to move toward the eagle, it thrashed around on the ground like crazy. We took several steps backward and crouched as low to the ground as we could. Looking at its sharp, hooked, yellow beak, I took a deep breath. “Maybe only I should go.” “I can do it if you want,” Gavin said. “My eagles. My rescue.” He nodded. “You know what to do?” I asked for Packrat’s coat, keeping my eyes on the eagle as I answered Gavin. “I’ve saved animals from traps before.” I didn’t tell him an eagle would be a first. I took little steps, creeping closer and closer. The eagle beat its wings against the ground. Mouth open, it shrieked. But its eyes looked panicked. Sad. I crouched down so I wouldn’t look like a big mountain lion hunting prey. “It’s okay,” I said as soothingly as I could. “I’m here to help.” “Any signs of blood?” Gavin asked. I tried to see past the eagle, to its talon in the trap. “Not yet.” “That’s good,” Roy said. Packrat spoke up. “I just looked it up on my phone. That’s a spring-loaded trap.” “Got it.” Still crouched, I was now about six feet from it. I could see the black pupils in its yellow eyes, as well as every single feather, including the one brown feather on the back of the head. It was the mom eagle.

I’d read that she was two and a half feet long, with a wingspan of six feet, but crouched next to her in real life, she was so much bigger than I’d dreamed. She could easily slice my skin with her beak and talons. I hesitated. But she was in trouble. And she had four chicks at home in her nest, depending on her. On me. Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest. Copyright © 2014 by Tamra Wight. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Islandport Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23


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historical

Ages 8-12 High Wind to Idaho by Rod Barclay Cross Timbers Press

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oshi climbed up the ladder into the gondola and stowed the food hamper. All the gear was just as they left it. He had brought a padded jacket for extra warmth, and matches to light the lantern. He was ready. Or was he? Suddenly he started to tremble at the thought of what he was about to do. Uncle Takahashi would surely be angry after what he had said to the lieutenant; Aunt Yasue would be upset; Lt. Itani would be insulted. But still, his desire to fly the balloon drove him on. It wouldn’t be any safer with the lieutenant on board, he thought. I would have to tell him what to do, and I’ll have landed before they know what has happened. Reassured, he started to untie the tether ropes: First the one on the port side, then on the starboard side. He hesitated before letting go of the stern rope. Was he ready to face the consequences of what he was about to do? Was he ready to face an angry uncle, an enraged lieutenant, a disappointed aunt? There was a piercing noise. Old Taiji was running toward the airship, blowing his warning whistle and shouting: “Stop! Stop! I say.” Yoshi panicked and let go the rope. The gondola tipped up, held only by the bow rope. Yoshi slid forward, tripped over a coil of rope and landed on the deck. As he reached for the top of the gondola wall to haul himself up, he felt it swaying. Old

Taiji was pulling on the rope, trying to pull the airship to the ground. Their eyes met. Yoshi released the last rope that held his precious craft captive, and they soared up into the early dawn, leaving Old Taiji, rope in hand, still blowing his whistle. High Wind to Idaho. Copyright © 2014 by Rod Barclay. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Cross Timbers Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 24

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The stories in The Christmas Cats Series are Dr. Seusslike rhyming tales for young children presented in a delightful way. They provide valuable lessons for any age, told with humor and style. BOOK ONE

The Christmas Cats In Silly Hats, stressed that we all should learn to play together nicely. Learning to cooperate is important for everyone. Available at BOOK TWO The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats won the award from the Chicago Writers’ Association as (1 of 7) Best Books of the Year 2014 by a Chicago author.

The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats, urges acceptance and advises against prejudice. “It’s best to be open and trusting and kind, and always to keep an open mind.” Learn to accept others in a non-judgmental, open-minded fashion. Available at BOOK THREE

Check out

www.TheXmasCats.com for FREE fun games, puzzles and coloring book pages

The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats, urges everyone to honor life in all its forms, and to love and accept all God’s creatures. Available at


UNDER THE

COVERS with Jason Chan www.jasonchanart.com

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ids will probably recognize Jason Chan’s art before his name, since he designs trading cards for Magic: the Gathering as well as covers for numerous fantasy books for young readers, including Brandon Mull’s The Beyonders and Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. Most recently, his work can be found on the covers of all three Keeper of the Lost Cities books by Shannon Messenger. Come with us Under the Covers to meet world renown artist Jason Chan.

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I always loved to draw. I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. Once I was old enough to read novels, I really gravitated toward anything with a sci-fi or fantasy angle. I was probably drawn to the genre originally because of the cover artwork. Now, getting a chance to work on book covers is a dream come true.

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I attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco majoring in illustration. A lot of my training was based on book cover illustration, but I actually was aiming to be a concept artist for video games. I do both now!

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I wanted to create something very exciting and dynamic with lots of movement for this particular image. It’s almost more like a scene from a summer blockbuster super hero movie, but still maintaining the flavor of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. 29


My artwork is done completely digitally. I use Photoshop to paint my paintings on my computer.

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There was definitely collaboration with not only the author, but also the publishing team. There were already a number of scenes that they thought would look good as a cover that they wanted me to try depicting. Also, they had a lot of input when it came down to making sure that the characters looked like how they would imagine. 31


I’ve worked on a number of book series. For young adult books, I’ve worked on the Theatre Illuminata, The Pegasus, The Resisters, Winterling, and even had a chance to do the UK version of The Hunger Games. I also do a lot of fantasy novel covers for series like The Broken Empire, The Widdershins Adventures, The Book of the Order, and others. There’s always more in the works, but you just have to wait until they come out!

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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 33


novelty

Ages 8+

Prehistoric Pencil Power!

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ven though they lived some 65 million years ago, dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles continue to rule today. From movies to comics and cartoons, these ancient, giant beasts are everywhere you turn. Of course, who wants to just read about or watch these dinos when you can learn how to use pencils, pens, markers, and more to draw your very own? Cartoonist James Silvani combines easy-to-follow art exercises with the latest, greatest dino-facts to help you create fun and cool dinosaur doodles all by yourself. With lessons on old favorites like T-rex and stegosaurus, as well as lesser-known (but still awesome) creatures like the massive argentinosaurus, Draw-a-Saurus has everything the dinosaur fan could ever ask for (outside of their very own pet dino!).

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Draw-A-Saurus: Everything You Need to Know to Draw Your Favorite Dinosuars by James Silvani www.silvaniart.com Ten Speed Press


graphic novel

Lowriders In Space, Book 1 by Cathy Camper, Raul the Third (Illustrator) www.cathycamper.com Chronicle Books

Ages 8-12

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upe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe?

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nonfiction Ages 8-12

Famous Phonies: Legends, Fakes, and Frauds Who Changed History by Brianna DuMont www.briannadumont.wordpress.com Sky Pony Press

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akes, frauds, and phonies. Sounds like a book filled with criminals and delinquents, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Some of the biggest names in history can be found between these pages— and the light isn’t flattering. (We’re looking at you, George “I must not tell a lie” Washington.) Famous Phonies: Legends, Fakes, and Frauds Who Changed History is the first book in a new nonfiction middle grade series that will explore the underbelly of history, making you question everything you thought you knew about history’s finest. Follow the fake lives of these twelve historychangers to uncover the fabrications of the famous, and the should-be-famous! 36

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BOOK Audrey’s Undersea Adventures with Sammy Starfish by Allen Pollens

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udrey is about to take you on adventures in a wondrous undersea world. Magical Sammy Starfish can make it all happen but good deeds are required. Sammy tells in the prologue how all this came about. Then, the exciting adventures begin. There’s something for everyone...a mermaid for girls, pirates for boys, plus King Neptune’s Court and fun for all. www.storyteller-spot.com Available at Amazon. Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Dallas

The Aesir Kids by James Grant Goldin and Charlotte Goldin

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trange things are happening in Asgard, and the magical children of Thor, Sif, Loki and other Norse gods— the “Aesir”—must band together to stop the end of the world…if they can! Co-authored by an accomplished TV writer and his Middle Grade daughter. “Anyone who likes Percy Jackson [or] Thor/ Avengers will like this book. I recommend it highly!” —Reader review www.aesirkids.com Available in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon. The Mystery of the Talented Thief: Detective Band 2 by Roberta Baxter

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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.

he band kids who make up the Detective Band solved one mystery at their school and now a thief has taken electronic items, jewelry and even a band instrument. In the meantime, they also must come up with some talent to display in a school talent show. Will they catch the thief before one of them is suspended?

www.sleepingbearpress.com Available at Sleeping Bear Press and Amazon.

www.robertabaxter.com/detective-band.html Available at Amazon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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


character spotlight The Goddess Girls Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams www.joanholub.com www.suzanne-williams.com Aladdin

Ages 8-12

Meet Aphrodite

Greek mythology meets modern middle school. Aphrodite, Artemis, Persephone, Athena and the whole Mount Olympus Academy student body tackle fun and exciting challenges in this popular series. Today Middle Shelf chats with Aphrodite about her new book, her friends, and her boy crush. Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Aphrodite. How does it feel be “effortlessly beautiful?” Aphrodite: It’s, you know, pretty effortless. The minute I wake up in the morning, my golden hair settles into long, glossy waves. And lip gloss is, like, my bestie when it comes to make-up. Still, if you go to Mount

Olympus Academy—whether you’re a mortal like Pandora or an immortal like me—you are probably amazing in some way or else Principal Zeus wouldn’t have invited you here. MS: You must attract a lot of attention. Do your friends ever get jealous? Aphrodite: Like Medusa, you mean? She and I had some trouble hitting it off in the beginning. She was always calling me Bubbles because I was born from sea foam. Whatever! Did I tease her about having live, green, wiggly snakes for hair? No, I don’t think so. But it came out of nowhere when

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she told me (in Medusa the Mean) that she think so, too. He may be rough on the outthought I had it so easy because I was side, but inside he’s a softie. beautiful. Um, hello? Looking perfect does MS: What has been your favorite advennot necessarily mean your life is perfect. ture so far? MS: Who are your closest friends, and do Aphrodite: Oh, wow. I don’t think I can pick a fav! Traveling to Egypt was pretty cool. So you have a bestie? Aphrodite: I have three besties—Athena, was a recent trip with thirteen other MOA Persephone, and Artemis. We’re all so dif- students to visit Minos’s aMAZEment park ferent, which makes it fun. Athena is the in Crete. Getting trapped in a labyrinth with brain. Once, right after she first got to the a vicious mechanical Minotaur sent shivers Academy, I talked her into letting me do a down my spine. You can read all about it in makeover on her. She looked so adorbs. I Goddess Girls 13: Athena the Proud. admit I was a little jealous, but I got over it. And Persephone is so nice, and great with MS: Tell us about your newest book, plants just like her mom, Demeter. Artemis Aphrodite the Fair. is an amazing shot with a bow and arrow Aphrodite: I put together this great party for and can outfly anyone in Beast-ology class. my crush, Ares, to celebrate his thirteenth birthday. Only then his sister, who he’d I adore her, but her dogs? Not so much. never even told me about, crashed it! I tried to befriend Eris, really I did. Ares told me MS: Who is your favorite godboy? Aphrodite: Ares, of course! He’s been my she was the goddess of strife and discord, crush, like, forever! I may be biased, but I but I thought I could handle her. But boy think he’s the handsomest godboy at MOA. was I wrong. Eris’s mere presence at MOA I know he’s got a reputation as a bully—he wreaked havoc among students. I can’t is the god of war, after all—but he’s not as tell you how many friendships she almost hot-tempered as he once was. People say destroyed. But luckily, I finally found a way I’ve been a good influence on him, and I to help bring her troublemaking to an end. 41


TEAK recommends

Ages 9-13 Teak Balena is 13 years old and in the 8th 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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Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Greenland by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet Greenleaf Book Group Press www.greenleafbookgroup.com [Review] Twins Gannon and Wyatt set off on dog sleds in the cold landscape of Greenland with their guides, Nuka and Unaaq, without much more than some journals and food. As the boys write of their travels, it gets colder and colder, and the wildlife just gets meaner and meaner. As I read Greenland, I couldn’t get my mind off of it. And when I finished it, I wanted to read it again. I found it so realistic and easy to relate to that when things didn’t exactly go my way, I remembered how Gannon and Wyatt went through a ton of problems in Greenland, and I realized that things could be so much worse. A fantastic novel!


LARA’S reads

Ages 10-14 The Perfect Place

by Teresa Harris

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt www.hmhco.com [Review] Treasure lives with her mother, father, and younger sister. Her dad left to find them a better home, but it’s been a long time since he has sent a letter. Treasure’s mother goes to look for him, leaving the children with Aunt Grace. Although Treasure believes she will be miserable with Grace, she hopes her dad will find the perfect place for her and her family to live. I give this book a Thumbs Up! It is a fast read, and I loved the fact that I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what was going to happen next. This book was so great, I read it in one day. 

Twelve-year-old Lara Marcus runs a monthly book club in her home town, has her own book review blog, and writes for her school paper. In addition to being a professional actress (you might have seen her on your favorite Disney Channel show), she also hopes to publish her own books one day. Lara’s Blog:

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publisher’s corner

www.cedarfortbooks.com

How Cedar Fort Got Started

The company began in 1986 with the aim to distribute and publish positive, uplifting books, music, and videos for the Latter-day Saint market. Since then, Cedar Fort has grown steadily, gradually adding products and employees. We now also produce books for the national market.

How Cedar Fort Got Its Name

In ancient times, the Cedars of Lebanon were the honored trees that stood as pillars in the temple of Solomon. To guard against evil spirits, early American people wore pieces of cedar in medicine bags around their necks or placed cedar above the doors of their houses. Even today we 44

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Our Cedar Fort offers new ways to learn, new ideas to discover, and new ways of expressing old ideas of lasting value.

keep many of our precious material treasures in cedar chests and jewelry boxes made of cedar. It is not only the durability and solidity of cedar that describes our business vision, but also the ‘ether’ or ‘ethereal,’ expressed in the spiritual essence of past legends that echoes in our name. A cedar fort is a stronghold with a lookout. Our Cedar Fort not only provides protection, but also offers a venue for those who wish to stand firm, yet cast about for new ways to learn, new ideas to discover, and new ways of expressing old ideas of lasting value. This is the vision that shapes our future.

sitions editors. There are five of us total. We are the first individuals to see the submissions and decide whether we are interested in taking it to the next stages of the publishing process. If so, we take it to the board who give it the final stamp of approval. The board consists of Lyle Mortimer, our CEO; Bryce Mortimer, our president; and Lee Nelson, the cofounder with Lyle; all of whom have a myriad of other responsibilities and run the company like rock stars. In addition to acquisitions, the team includes a copy editor, a cover designer, and a marketer. We’ve got our warehouse team that gets us our hard products The People and keeps us organized, our film Behind the Books and media team, our sales team, Everything starts with the acqui- and several other individuals and


teams that keep us sane such as the catalog team, proofreaders, office support, production management, foreign rights department, and human resources.

books to check out

What Makes Cedar Fort Special

Though Cedar Fort has some religious ties, we do not limit ourselves to that material. Due to our religious background, we strive to produce mainly clean and uplifting material in order to strengthen and inspire our readers. Too much current worldly material can be degrading or destructive. Cedar Fort does not follow that trend for entertainment and promotes strength of self, families, and positivity for all individuals in the national book market while providing quality and exciting entertainment.

New and Upcoming Middle Grade Releases

Some of our recent middle grade releases include: Death’s Academy (January)  Luminescence (March) The Rebel Princess (June) The Dreamosphere (July) Benotripia: Keys to the Dream World (July)

Our upcoming titles include:

The Dreamosphere by Laura Stoddard ages 9-12

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hat if dreams don’t disappear when we wake up? Haunted by her sister’s death, Gwen Stoker takes solace in her web of dreams-the Dreamosphere. But when someone begins destroying it, Gwen must find the culprit-or risk losing all her happy thoughts and feelings forever! Dreams come to life in this fantastical children’s tale!

The Rebel Princess by Janice Sperry ages 9-12

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eet the upside-down fairy-tale princess! Raven Perilous is not nice because nice princesses get locked in towers. When Prince Charming shows up, Ravenwho is not in distress-decides to show him who’s boss. This enchanting adventure, filled with magic forests and mystical creatures, will captivate fans of fairy tales everywhere!

Calvin Sparks (will release only in ebook format in November 2014) Ian Quicksilver (will release in May 2015) 45


best

of the book blogs The BlackMyst Trilogy: Eyes of the Enemy by Kelly Hess Libertary Co. Review by

TALES OF THE WORKING MOM

Ages 8-12

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ou know when you read a book and you’re so involved in it, you find yourself reading it every minute you can? Sitting in a five-minute drive, not driving, obviously. Sitting in the Dr.’s office. While dinner is cooking. You want to read it and finish it. Well, this book was this for me. Beynn lived in a peaceful village. It was years past the Sorak Wars, and the town was far from the Sorak border. The village was peaceful until the festival when he was thirteen. That night, the Sorak attacked his village, looking for him, and he was sent on a mission of self-discovery and to save the village.

This book reminds me of The Hobbit in so many ways. It is a fun-filled fantasy minus the gore of modern novels. It is a story of Beynn learning his past and finding a way to live with the unexpected. It is a book that a parent could easily let their child read. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. I would recommend this book to any middle schoolaged child or anyone looking for an old-school fantasy story. I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

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 46

ANNIE AND AUNT MIDDLE GRADE MAFIA

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

MIDDLE GRADE NINJA MORE THAN TRUE


Hades Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Shecter, J.E. Larson (Illustrator) Boyds Mills Press Review by

JEAN LITTLE LIBRARY

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he story of Greek beliefs about religion, the afterlife, selected myths, and bits of culture is narrated in a darkly cynical fashion by Hades, who feels a bit neglected amongst his fellow gods. Hades introduces himself and conducts the reader into his world: the underworld. There we meet monsters and ghosts, hear myths, and learn about strange rituals. The reader will learn about how Greek culture evolved through their religious rites and beliefs and the reasons for some of those beliefs, all narrated by the grim humor of Hades. This felt more mythic and less historical than Anubis Speaks! for some reason. Maybe

Ages 9-12 because I was more familiar with the Greek myths and culture than Egyptian, maybe because it focused more on myths and less on the history and culture that the myths came from. That’s not a criticism, by the way, just an observation. There were more references to pop culture (Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, etc.), but most of them were things that should stay fairly current and not date the story. Middle grade readers will be delighted by the familiar myths, new twists, and monsters, and the bits of Greek culture and history may inspire them to go looking for the real history behind the myths. Highly recommended.Â

>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com RANDOM MUSINGS OF A BIBLIOPHILE RANDOMLY READING SEMICOLON

SERAPHINIA READS STACKING BOOKS THIS KID REVIEWS BOOKS 47


on our shelf

A Plague of Bogles by Catherine Jinks Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ages 9–12

www.catherinejinks.com

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Plague of Bogles is an exciting, scary novel that will give children goosebumps. As bogles start to crawl all over London through pipelines and sewers, it is a feeding frenzy, for there is only one thing that a bogle would eat. Children! One by one, children start mysteriously disappearing. So Alfred, a former Bogler (BogleKiller) goes back into business with his new apprentice, Jem, and former apprentice, Birdie. I absolutely loved this book. It has action, detail, excitement, and just a little bit of horror (no blood or gore I assure you). Even when I finished the book, I wanted to go back and read the whole story again. 48

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From the Magical Mind of Mindy Munson by Nikki Bennett Firedrake Books ages 8–12

www.firedrakebooks.com

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indy is a little girl who doesn’t talk, except to whisper to her twin brother, Jesse, who is sort of her spokesman for their two older siblings, Tucker and Susie. After the Munson kids lose their parents in an accident, they move to a new (old) house with their aunt. But according to Mindy, this house is already occupied by a host of invisible magical creatures. The story’s narrative is childlike and sweet. And I really started to believe in those creatures, too. But at its heart, this is about loss and healing. And more importantly it’s a story about family. I enjoyed this little book immensely, and kids of all ages will enjoy it, too.


The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ages 10-14

www.jasperfforde.com

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un and quirky sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam Mystical Arts Magagment, and though not a magician herself, she manages the lives of the mages under her employ. But she has a problem: the Mighty Shandar is going to destroy her company because she saved two baby dragons that he was contracted to destroy. This is a great series, full of amazingly fresh characters that are relatable and fun. Readers will soak up the magical atmosphere and enjoy the tricky plot points. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to go back and read the first two books. Plus, this third book sets up for a fourth that will mean life and death for our characters.

The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman David McPhail (illustrator) Holiday House ages 9–12

www.marthafreeman.com

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n orphan and a mouse are an unlikely pair, but when crimes are committed at the Cherry Street Orphanage, they might just be the ones to solve it. Coming home one evening, Mary Mouse comes face to face with a cat and is rescued by Carolyn, a sweet orphaned girl. The pair, though unable to communicate, form a friendship based upon kindness—a refreshing change for both, who have each experienced their fair share of suffering. Recalling the adventures of Stuart Little, Martha Freeman has woven a tale worth reading this school year and for many years to come.

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poetry

Give me that! Petey shouted this morning in the car on the way to school. No, I said. But he grabbed for it swerving the car just missing a fire hydrant. NO! I said again, but his arms are long and his car is small. Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt www.kaholt.com Chronicle Books

Ages 10-14

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

That’s why I’m writing this on the back of old homework. My notebook is on the street somewhere because Petey is a moron and says poetry is for old ladies.


Ham sandwich in my backback. Left the chips at home. Too noisy. If I sit back by the old encyclopedias Mrs. Little doesn’t see me, or pretends like she doesn’t see me, And I can eat in peace. No one spilling milk on my food “accidentally.” No one saying Roses are red Violets are purple Kevin writes poems Because he’s a girl That’s a terrible poem by the way. Though “girple” would be an awesome word. From Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt. Copyright 2014. Reprinted with permission from publisher. Reprinted by permission.

51


LAST WORDS

…there’s no such thing as being bewitched in 1963, in Toronto, Canada. —From The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014


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november/december 2014

contributors AUSTEN, CATHERINE Austen’s books have won the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award, the Sunburst Award, the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award, and the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, and they have been shortlisted for numerous other honors. BARCLAY, ROD Rod Barclay is a retired designer and engineer who is drawn to history and science. He writes for middle grade and young adult readers who wish to understand their world and its history. He lives in Texas with his wife and three miniature dachshunds, and restores old cars. BENNETT, NIKKI Originally from Virginia, Nikki Bennett is a middle grade and young adult author. She lives in Japan and loves traveling. Her books are influenced by the lands she explores and people she meets. BRAHMACHARI, SITA Sita Brahmachari was born in England to an Indian doctor from Kolkata and an English nurse from the Lake District. She lives and works in North London with her husband, three children, and a temperamental cat. BURNS, LAURA J. Burns has written more than thirty books for kids and teens, touching on topics from imaginary lake monsters to out-of-control Hollywood starlets. She has also written for the TV shows Rosewell, 1-800-MISSING, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York with her husband, her kids, and her two exceptionally silly dogs.

cool reads for cool kids.

CALLAGHAN, CINDY Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle grade novels Just Add Magic, Lost in London, Lucky Me, Lost in Paris, and Lost in Rome, all with Aladdin M!X. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware. CAMPER, CATHY Camper is a librarian focusing on outreach to schools and children in grades K-12. Cathy has published articles and stories for children and adults in Cricket, Wired, and Giant Robot magazines. She currently reviews for Lambda Literary online. Cathy coedits a tiny magazine about candy called Sugar Needle, and likes to make art out of seeds. CHAN, JASON Chan is a senior concept artist at Massive Black Inc. specializing in illustration for marketing, key art illustration, and character design. When not at the office, he also illustrates sci-fi/fantasy and young adult novels and trading card games. His work has been featured in galleries in both the US and in Europe. He likes to chill with his wife, pet his cats, and play video games. COHN, EDITH Edith Cohn was born and raised in North Carolina, where she grew up visiting the unique beaches of the Outer Banks. She currently lives in the coyotefilled hills of Los Angeles with her husband and her dog,  Leia. All of these things provided inspiration for Spirit’s Key, her first novel. COTTER, CHARIS Cotter grew up in downtown Toronto beside a cemetery and developed an early love of reading and acting at her local library, where she appeared in plays. She now lives in a particularly haunted


november/december 2014

contributors part of Newfoundland, where she has been working with children to publish their own books of traditional local ghost stories. DUMONT, BRIANNA DuMont is a self-proclaimed history buff with a degree in art history and archaeology. She has traveled extensively in search of great museums and historical sites to visit. When she is home, she is an independent historian and full-time writer who is quickly becoming best friends with her local librarian. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. EVANS, SHANE W. Evans is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, which won a Coretta Scott King award, and Nobody Gonna Turn Me Round, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. FFORDE, JASPER Fforde began his career in the film industry, and for nineteen years held a variety of posts on such movies as Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro, and Entrapment. He is the international best-selling author of the Chronicles of Kazam, the Thursday Next mysteries, and the Nursery Crime books. He lives in Wales. FREEMAN, MARTHA Freeman was born in Southern California in the days when dinosaurs were still a threat. At least that’s what her three grown children will tell you. After graduating from Stanford University, she worked as a newspaper reporter, copy editor, substitute teacher, college lecturer, advertising copywriter, and magazine writer before finding her true calling as a writer of children’s books.

FRENCH, SIMON Simon French published his first novel while he was still in high school. He has since written several novels and picture books that have won a number of awards. An elementary-school teacher, Simon French lives in Australia. FUNKE, CORNELIA One of the most beloved children’s authors of our day, multi-award-winner Cornelia Funke started out as a social worker focused on the needs of disadvantaged youngsters. She left social work in the mid-1980s to begin a career as a children’s book illustrator. She has achieved international fame for her many books, including Inkheart, The Thief Lord, and Reckless. HARRIS, TERESA E. Teresa E. Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia University and an MFA in writing for children from Vermont College, where she won numerous awards. The Perfect Place is her second book for young readers. HAVEMEYER, JANIE Havemeyer has worked as a museum educator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, an elementary school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a social studies curriculum designer. For the past six years, she has been working as a literacy tutor. She writes narrative, nonfiction picture books for children. HEMSTREET, KEITH Keith Hemstreet is the recipient of numerous writing awards. He attended Florida State University and completed his graduate studies at Appalachian State University. He lives in Aspen, Colorado with his wife and three daughters.

cool reads for cool kids.


november/december 2014

contributors HOLT, K.A. Kari Anne Holt is the author of several middle grade novels in verse including House Arrest, Rhyme Schemer, and Brains for Lunch, which received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and was highlighted on the Texas Library Association’s Annotated Lone Star Reading List for 2011. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and three malevolently charming children. HOLUB, JOAN Joan Holub is the author of more than 130 books for young readers, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, Zero the Hero, Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars, and Shampoodle. She lives in North Carolina. JINKS, CATHERINE Catherine Jinks, winner of a Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian children’s literature, is the author of many books for children of all ages, including the acclaimed Evil Genius trilogy. She lives with her family in New South Wales, Australia. KUTZERA, DALE Writer and filmmaker, Kutzera, worked as a screenwriter for over ten years. He is a recipient of the Carl Sautter Screenwriting Award, the Environmental Media Award, and participated in the Warner Brothers Writers Workshop. His credits include the TV shows Strange Frequency and Without a Trace, and the independent film Military Intelligence And You! MCNICOLL, SYLVIA Sylvia McNicoll discovered a knack for writing because of a composition in the fourth grade. Today

cool reads for cool kids.

she is a full-time, award-winning author who has published more than thirty novels for young people. MESSENGER, SHANNON Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned—among other things—that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She’s studied art, screenwriting, and television production, but realized her real passion was writing for kids and teens. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. NGUYEN, RUTHIE ELIZABETH When mom and blogger, Nguyen, isn’t settling a screaming baby or chasing after the animals to prevent further destruction, she can often be found playing in the dirt trying to grow a single flower or sitting on the deck starting one of the several needlepoint projects that never seems to get finished! She also has a passion for shopping, handbags and shoes. O’BRIEN, LARA O’Brien was born in Dublin and raised on the wild and wondrous hill of Howth, a beautiful seaside town on the northeast coast of Ireland with cliff paths and moors of outstanding beauty. She grew up as one of many children who were part of Howth Riding Stables, a barn for twenty-five horses, cows and a clever dog named Polly. PARKER, EMMA Parker is the Acquisitions Editor over the fiction department with Cedar Fort Publishing in Springville, Utah. She has traded the sunny shores of her hometown in Huntington Beach, CA for the thin air


november/december 2014

contributors and extreme weather in Salt Lake and lives there with her husband. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and creative writing. PINKEY, ANDREA DAVIS Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of more than 20 books for children, including Bird in a Box and several collaborations with her husband Brian Pinkney, including Sit-In, Hand in Hand, and Martin & Mahalia. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY. RAUL THE THIRD Raul the Third teaches classes on drawing and comics for kids at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts. SILVANI, JAMES Silvani has drawn characters for Disney, Warner Bros., Dreamworks, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Comics. Currently, he is a comic book illustrator for titles like Disney’s Mickey Mouse, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, and The Muppets. He has drawn dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts since childhood. TAK, BIBI DUMON Bibi Dumon Tak is a Dutch author who has written a number of books for young readers, including Soldier Bear (Eerdmans), which won the 2012 Mildred L. Batchelder Award. She was inspired to write her current story after visiting a donkey sanctuary on the Greek island of Corfu. WHEELER, PATTI Wheeler began traveling at a young age and has nurtured the spirit of adventure in her family ever

since. For years, it has been her goal to create children’s books that instill the spirit of exploration in young people. Travels with Gannon and Wyatt is the realization of her dream. WILLIAMS, SUZANNE Suzanne Williams is the author of more than thirtyfive books for young readers, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, Library Lil, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, and the Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power series. She lives near Seattle in Washington State. WIGHT, TAMRA Wight lives in and operates a campground in Poland Spring, Maine. Besides reading and writing, hiking, and kayaking, she likes digging in the dirt and has several flower gardens.  She also loves to take wildlife photos. She is the author of three books for young readers. YELCHIN, EUGENE Yelchin is the author and illustrator of the Newbery Honor book Breaking Stalin’s Nose. Born and educated in Russia, he left the former Soviet Union when he was twenty-seven years old. He  has also illustrated several books for children, including Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? and Won Ton. He lives in California with his wife and children. Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX 75085. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids November/December 2014  

Find your next favorite middle-grade book in the new issue of Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids. In this issue: Cornelia Funke, Shannon Mess...

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