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ANNIVERSARY ISSUE Books about family Dyslexia-friendly titles Debut author Constance Lombardo



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Illustration: from A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt



DRAGONEERS M.R. Mathias If you liked Harry Potter and Percy Jackson you will LOVE the Award Winning, Dragoneer Saga by M. R. Mathias. As always Book One - The Royal Dragoneers, is just .99 for Kindle but the whole series is FREE with Kindle Unlimited. Available at

november/december 2015 contents



Cynthia Voigt interview with the Newbery Award winning author


Brandon Mull interview with the author of the Fablehaven series

12 30


a word from the editor


themed books: family


common core pick


cool reads for cool kids


jem & lara’s reviews


on our shelf

38 novelty 39

graphic novel




publisher’s corner


best of the book blogs

Constance Lombardo interview with the author of Mr. Puffball, Stunt Cat to the Stars




last words

under the covers with Judd Winick, author & illustrator of Hilo



44 character spotlight an interview with Teagan Rogers from Teagan of Tomorrow Images from Watchmen of Port Fayt by Conrad Mason and The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman

On the cover: Illustration by Judd Winick from Hilo

a word from the



t’s hard to believe two whole years have passed since the first issue of Middle Shelf Magazine was published in October 2013. I’m so glad to be celebrating our birthday with all of you. I recently had the pleasure of taking my kids to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. We rode the rides, ate a lot of food, and had a wonderful time. The park was jam-packed with people, mostly families who, like me, had come to enjoy a day of fun together. There were all kinds of families: families with one parent or two, families with babies or teenagers or kids of all ages in between, even families with no kids at all. I met an elderly couple whose children were all grown up, and they were having good time at Disneyland, just the two of them. I saw families from all over the world, speaking many different languages. I was amazed by the variety of people, of families, there are in the world—and I was especially pleased to see how similar we all were—how we all smiled, and laughed, and hugged those we loved and kept them close. This issue of Middle Shelf celebrates family. Our special guest authors, Newbery Award winner, Cynthia Voigt, and best-selling Fablehaven author, Brandon Mull, both share their thoughts on family. We also have an entire selection of new books where family is at the heart of the story. But that’s not all you’ll find in Middle Shelf. We also have tantalizing excerpts, awesome spotlights, and a host of new books just waiting to be discovered—by you. Laurisa White Reyes Editor in Chief, Middle Shelf Magazine

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LIVE FOR TODAY A broken promise takes a gifted teenager down a suicidal path of selfdestruction. When a girl asks him about his future he says, “I live for today, there are no tomorrows for me.” Will her love, and her secret, be enough to save him? Without faith there is no hope. Without hope there is no tomorrow. Watch the Video Here

FORMULA 2000, THE DREAM Keeping a promise, a father enters his son in the Formula 2000 race series with only a dream and a prayer. When things go from bad to worse it takes a crusty old mechanic to show them how to win.

MOON SHADOW, THE LEGEND The United States is destroyed, not so much from outside forces, but rather from the greed within. A handful of pilots try desperately to take back America. Now the future of America depends on its best pilot defeating an F-14 at night but all he has is an antiquated P-51 Mustang and an old Indian Legend, Moon Shadow.  

THE CAJUN A little Crocodile Dundee and a little Rambo. With a million dollar reward on her head, Kelli Parsons hides in the treacherous Atchafalaya Swamp where living or dying depends on one man— the Cajun!

Watch the Video Here



author interview

Cynthia Voigt C

ynthia Voigt received the Newbery Award in 1983 for her book Dicey’s Song. She has written over 30 books and won many awards. Her newest series, about an adventurous young sleuth named Max, is unlike anything she has written before and promises to become a favorite for middle grade readers. Middle Shelf is honored to welcome Ms. Voigt to its pages.



Mister Max (series) by Cynthia Voigt Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno Random House Children’s Books

Ages 8-12

Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Ms. Voigt. Tell us about the Mister Max series. Cynthia Voigt: It is a pleasure to be here. I wish I could give you an agile answer to your first question, but I stink at making summary statements about my own stories. The response I really want to give is: Start on page one and see what you think. Although, in general, I can say there are three books, and Max has the leading role. If I add that I have always been a Zorro fan, also I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel, it would mean something to me, but what about your readers? He shares a name with my oldest grandchild, there is that, too. MS: What is a “solutioneer?” Voigt: “Solutioneer” is to “solution” as “mountaineer” is to “mountain” and “privateer” (more interestingly, to my mind) is to “private.” Of course I made the word up, and I am pleased as punch with it. It says exactly what I want it to. MS: You once said that you set your stories in places you are familiar with. Does this apply to Mister Max? Is Queensbridge a real place? Voigt: No, Queensbridge is not a real place. It is, however, modeled after the old cities founded when merchant sailing vessels were the preferred means of transporting goods, which spread inland as they grew. Also the Lake is definitely Italian, designed like Lake Orta, which I have seen with my own eyes, where the Alps are visible over the northern end of the lake, being entirely scenic, and Lake

Como, where a ferry runs around and around the lakeside villages. MS: Max’s grandmother, Grammie, is a librarian and former school teacher. Does she bear any resemblance to you? Voigt: I can’t say, really, although I wouldn’t mind being like her. Once I create characters, however, if I do it right, do it well enough, they become so much themselves that even though I know full well I made them up, I can’t see them as anybody but themselves. I feel the same way about my children, and maybe—now I think about it—about everybody: Whether or not you resemble someone else, except in the occasional glimpse, is immaterial; I am interested in who you are, your own and singular self. 7

MS: While the Mister Max books are mysteries, family is also an important theme. How so? Voigt: How could it not be so? Families are important to everybody, whatever their particular history is. Even in their total absence, they are important: Think about stories of orphans, like Kim, or David Copperfield. Terrible families, dysfunctional families, unfortunate or fortunate families—they are a part of who we are, for good and ill and everything in between. That’s what I think. Without parents who disappeared on him, Max’s story would be a very different one. For one thing, it would have taken him a lot more time to get to where he was at the end of the story.



MS: You have authored many books, including Newbery Award winning Dicey’s Song. Which was the most challenging to write and why? Voigt: The truth is that whatever book I am presently working on is the most challenging. When I remember how I felt when I was writing an earlier story, there is kind of a rosy haze (think late summer afternoon light) over the memory; I remember not all the choices or failed attempts, just the finished thing, whole, words and story in place. When I think of what I plan to write next, it is shown in a bright golden light of possibility, that this might be the story that is as good as I imagine it might be. Of course, neither fond memory or great hopes are reliable, but they do reflect accurately the three stages of a book for me. Luckily, I like tackling difficulties. I like having things to think about in the present. MS: What has been your biggest surprise as an author? Voigt: That each book I write (successful and unsuccessful, in print or in my filing cabinet) is so different from every other, in its planning, in its writing, and in its reception too. (Although, now I think of it, the reception part is less surprising, given how different people are, one from the other. Now I think of it, the times when the reception is pretty much the same are the surprising ones.) MS: How long does it take you to write a book? Voigt: I used to figure it would take a

“Families are important to everybody, whatever their particular history is.” year to write a first draft, but that was back when my life was better organized. In my history of writing, it has taken anywhere from maybe nine months to three years to get one done, the delays sometimes caused by needing to revise another story in the midst of trying to write a new one. These days, I don’t even start to think about when a draft might be finished, I just trundle on through. I start at word one and see how far I can get on any given day. Then, of course, the next morning I might decide I was getting it all wrong and start at word one again. The same thing is, unfortunately, true of any section I think I’ve finished, through the entire time of writing a book. You can see why it might take a while to finish.

a voice recording device, which makes it hard when I am driving. (Driving is a good time for thinking, just bad for writing down your ideas. But you can always pull over.) MS: How do you decide which of these ideas will become your next book? Voigt: Generally, the idea I cannot forget about, or let go of (for whatever reason) is one I want to try next. Many of my ideas are not good ones. MS: Will there be any more Mister Max books? Voigt: Probably not. Maybe. Possibly. I’m in wait-and-see mode on that question.

MS: Where do you keep your story ideas? Voigt: Oh, in a notebook in the purse I always have with me, or scraps of paper from the kitchen pad, or file cards in a box on my desk—whatever piece of paper was nearby when the idea drifted across my mind. I have discovered that something I cannot do is use any kind of



author interview

The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Brandon Mull T

he Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven is the first visual discovery of the creatures in the series and is written as if the reader is the new caretaker of the Fablehaven preserve. It has all sorts of insider’s knowledge the new caretaker of Fablehaven would have to know, such as dragon tears are very powerful in making potions but they are extremely difficult to come by and cruel people have been known to torment young dragons just to collect tears! So don’t YOU want to be their caretaker? Middle Shelf: Why did you decide to make Kendra and Seth siblings? Brandon Mull: From the start, I wanted Fablehaven to be a story about family. I hoped the realism of those relationships would help readers believe the fantasy of the magical creatures. Growing up, I was close to my brothers and sisters, as well as my grandparents, and I drew on my own childhood as I created the main characters. 10

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 Shadow Mountain Publishing

Ages 9-12

MS: What role does Grandpa Sorenson play in the series? Mull: The grandparents have a close relationship with Kendra and Seth. Since Grandpa Sorenson is the caretaker of a secret wildlife park for magical creatures, he hopes first to protect his visiting grandchildren, but also to instruct them. Basically, he teaches them life lessons about obedience and accountability, while also trying to keep them from being devoured by demons or turned into mutant walruses by fairies. MS: Fablehaven is full of magical creatures. Do you have a favorite? Mull: I have fun writing the satyrs, Newel and Doren. They are the carefree frat boys of Fablehaven, and bring a lot of humor into the story. But it is hard to pick. A big part of the joy of Fablehaven for me is bringing to life many of the magical creatures I read about growing up, including fairies, centaurs, demons, trolls, dragons, brownies, giants, goblins, unicorns, leprechauns, golems, and so forth.   MS: Tell us about The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven. Mull: It is the guidebook you might be handed if you were going to become caretaker (or assistant caretaker) of Fablehaven. It features lots of beautiful art that brings to life the people, places, creatures, and items of the Fablehaven series. I love browsing all the new images by Brandon Dorman, the talented artist who illustrated the Fablehaven novels. The Caretaker’s Guide is a great review and reference for anyone trying to remember

who is who or what is what at Fablehaven. MS: Out of all of your book series, which has been the most challenging to write? Mull: With Beyonders it was the ambitious nature of the story—keeping track of a variety of characters through what grew into a sprawling epic. With Five Kingdoms, I’ve done my most complex world-building, so making everything fit together and make sense has been interesting. Fablehaven was tricky because it was my first published series.   MS: Can you give us a glimpse into your new series, Dragonwatch? Mull: Dragonwatch will continue only a couple of months after Fablehaven left off. We’ll follow the same main characters, and we’ll also meet a bunch of new ones. In the Fablehaven series, the big threat came from the demons trying to escape their ancient prison. In Dragonwatch, the main threat will come from wizards and dragons. 11


debut author interview

Constance Lombardo H

e’s a hero for today. Or possibly tomorrow. He’s a cat. He’s awesome. And...wait for it...he’s going to Hollywood to become a famous movie star! Follow Mr. Puffball on his trip cross-country. (Look at all the postcards to Mom!) See him stumble upon Hobowood! (Not as glamorous as Hollywood, but full of beans.) Watch him land at last in Hollywood, where he meets a cast of thousands (or at least half a dozen) and catapults himself into the next best thing to being a famous movie star: working as a stunt cat to his movie star hero, El Gato! Middle Shelf: What was your inspiration for Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars? Constance Lombardo: I love cats, have lived with many fascinating felines, and they’re fun to draw! When I started working on this book, we had Myrtle the circus cat. We called her ‘the circus cat’ because she sometimes stood on her hind legs. Now we also have Gandalf the Grey, the Naughty 12


Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo Katherine Tegen Books

Ages 8-12

Kitten. Watching my cats is a source of inspiration! MS: How did you become an artist? Lombardo: I started drawing when I was 10, often copying images off album covers (that’s what we had before CDs or mp3s or whatever young people listen to now!) My parents encouraged me, buying me art supplies and getting me into art classes. My middle school art teacher let me and my friend, who was also into art, do a very large mural-like painting that ended up on permanent display in the cafeteria. Our subject: old movies! (Many years later, my nephews went to the same school and told me it’s still hanging there!) Carolina, a place resplendent with waterfall pools. What lovely places to swim! MS: What did you like most about illustrating your own book? MS: Will there be a sequel to Mr. Puffball? Lombardo: There’s something about Lombardo: Yes and yes again! The working in black & white that totally second book is tentatively titled—Mr. suits me. Maybe because it feels like its Puffball: Stunt Cat across America. somewhere between writing and drawing— maybe that’s why we love to doodle! (You MS: Any advice for kids who like to doodlers out there know what I’m talking draw? about!) But what I’ve enjoyed most in this Lombardo: Drawing is an excellent way particular book has been taking old movie to discover the world and see it in a new posters, like the one for Casablanca, a very way. Carry a sketchpad—or some kind serious and beautiful cinematic classic, and of paper—with you wherever you go. turning it into Catsablanca. Draw with whatever materials you have— sharpies, pens, pencil, charcoal sticks. MS: Besides writing and drawing, how Be creative, try everything, experiment. do you spend your time? Doodle. Go to museums if possible or go Lombardo: I love hanging out with my to libraries and find art books. If you can friends and have a very big soft spot for take art classes, do it! Of course draw games like Pictionary and Balderdash. I go from life as much as possible. Look in a to movies as much as possible, especially mirror and draw yourself. Draw your mom comedies! I also love crossword puzzles. or brother or friend. Draw your cat or dog And I’m fortunate to live in Western North or pet frog! And, of course, have fun!! 13


themed books:

Until I Find Julian

Magic in the Mix

by Patricia Reilly Giff

by Annie Barrows

Random House Children’s Books brand/patricia-reilly-giff

Bloomsbury USA

Ages 8-12


t home in Mexico, Mateo knows where he belongs: with Mami, Abuelita, little brother Lucas, and big brother Julian. When Julian leaves to work in el Norte, the United States, Mateo misses him. And when the family stops hearing from Julian, Mateo knows he has to find his beloved brother. With only his old notebook and a backpack, Mateo heads for the border, where dangers await: robbers, and the border police, who will send him back home or perhaps even put him in prison. On his journey, Mateo meets Angel, a smart, mysterious girl who can guide his crossing. Angel is tough; so is Mateo, and his memories of his loving family sustain him. Because no matter what happens, he can’t go home until he finds Julian.



Ages 8-12


ew twin sisters Miri and Molly are ready for a normal life. But just when they think there’s smooth sailing ahead, a door opens, time folds, and magic is unleashed from their very special house. The girls set off on a new adventure, playing a cat-andmouse game with time—and trouble—as they discover two soldiers in need of their help. With cunning, imagination, and the inadvertent assistance of their kitten, Molly and Miri must find a way to save themselves and their wayward brothers from the past. Brimming with lovable characters and spine-tingling magic, this sequel will bring new readers to Annie Barrows’ highly acclaimed, wonderfully popular world of twin-inspired magic.

FAMILY Brilliant

The Tale of Rescue

by Roddy Doyle

by Michael J. Rosen Stan Fellows (illustrator)

Amulet Books

Ages 8-12


he Black Dog of Depression has descended over the adults of Dublin. Uncles are losing their businesses, dads won’t get out of bed, mothers no longer smile at their children. Siblings Raymond and Gloria have had enough and set out one night with one goal in mind: to stop the Black Dog, whatever it takes. In a chase through the streets and parks and beaches of Dublin, the children run after the Black Dog, and soon dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of kids join in their fight. They discover they have one weapon against the Black Dog. The weapon is a word: “brilliant.” Brilliant is a very special book with a storybook feel.

Candlewick Greetings.html

Ages 10-14


family—a mother, a father, and their tenyear-old son—have come all the way from Florida to the Appalachian foothills to experience the wonder of a snowy weekend. At a nearby farm, a cattle dog is working, as she does every day, driving her forty head of cattle from pasture to corral and back again. And then, suddenly, a blizzard descends. The family is trapped outside, disoriented in the whiteout. They are panicked, exhausted, freezing, and stranded in waist-deep drifts. From off in the distance, the cattle dog has heard their faint, snow-drowned cries. Her inexhaustible attention turns to saving them. This stirring tale is both a compelling story of survival and a meditation on the tremendous will of man’s best friend. 15


themed books:

Finders Keepers

Scrap City

by Shelley Tougas

by D.S. Thornton

Roaring Brook Press www.shelleytougas.wordpress. com

Capstone Press

Ages 8-12



rom the author of The Graham Cracker Plot, a story about two friends playing finders keepers for the missing loot of Al Capone. Christa spends every summer at the most awesome place in the whole world: her family’s cabin on Whitefish Lake in Wisconsin. Only her dad recently lost his job and her parents have decided to sell the cabin. But not if Christa can help it. Everyone knows there is Al Capone blood money hidden somewhere in Whitefish Lake, and her friend Alex’s cranky grandpa might have the key to finding it. Grumpa says the loot is gone, or worse-cursed!-but Christa knows better. If she finds it, she can keep it and save her family and their beloved cabin.



Ages 10-14 ould you believe that under the ground, right beneath your city, was another city? Would you believe it was populated with Scrappers, people built of metal and glass and stone? Jerome has no choice but to believe it after he meets Arkie. Arkie is a Scrapper, and he and Jerome quickly become friends— maybe even brothers. So when Arkie’s city is in danger, Jerome knows he must help. But helping Arkie means hurting Jerome’s dad, the only real family Jerome still has...

FAMILY Stormstruck! by John Macfarlane Holiday House

Ages 8-12


hen Sam overhears his parents talking about their elderly and infirm Labrador retriever, Pogo, he’s convinced they plan to have the dog put down. To save Pogo, Sam sets sail with the dog in a 14-foot boat for an island off the coast of Maine. The elements conspire against them as they move from one danger to another: fog, near decapitation by a tugboat cable, a storm at sea, a lurking shark, and the loss of their boat. Sam summons courage and ingenuity to meet each new challenge, helped along the way by Pogo’s loyalty, a one-eyed cormorant, a retired ornithologist, and a lifetime of good nautical advice from his older brother. As he battles nature’s fury, Sam is finally able to come to terms with what he has truly been running from: his brother’s death in Afghanistan.

The Secrets of the Pied Piper, Book 1: The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody Knopf

Ages 8-12


t is said that in the thirteenth century, in a village called Hamelin, a piper lured all of the children away with his magical flute, and none of them were ever seen again. Today tough, pink-haired Max and her little brother, Carter, are stuck in modernday Hamelin with their father... until they are also led away by the Piper to a place called the Summer Isle. There they meet the original stolen children, who haven’t aged a day and who have formed their own village, vigilantly guarded from the many nightmarish beings that roam the land. No one knows why the Piper stole them, but Max and Carter’s appearance may be the key to returning the lost children of Hamelin—and to going home themselves.


Science History/Social Studies DIGGING HISTORY Middle Shelf’s Common Core Pick

English Language Arts STEM

Grades 3-8


So You Want to Work with the Ancient & Recent Dead? by J.M. Bedell Aladdin/Beyond Words



ave you ever been excited by forensic science or psyched to dig up fossils? This comprehensive guide reveals a whole host of careers in the underrated world of the no-longer-living. Covering everything from well known jobs like archaeologists, morticians, coroners, and forensic scientists to the not-so-well-known professions like studying dead stars and planets to playing a zombie on TV, So, You Want to Work With the Ancient and Recent Dead? uncovers a treasure trove of occupational opportunities. In addition to tips and interviews from professionals in the industry, So, You Want to Work With the Ancient and Recent Dead? includes inspiring stories from kids who are working toward an exciting career in the area of “dead things” as well as activities, a glossary, and resources to help you unearth your interests and discover a successful career.

With the evil Leprechauns (The Shangaar) hot on their trail who would ever guess that the fate of the littlest people would fall on the shoulders of a 10-year-old human girl named Clara Gooday? Her unwavering belief in these magical little people may be the very thing that saves the FunGkins and all of Halladon from a fate worse than death. Clara’s roller coaster ride of adventure is one with so many twists and turns that there are just too many to mention here. So Buckle up and hold on tight for this is a ride you will enjoy all day and all through the night.

“The FunGkins is a wondrous, captivating book that can be enjoyed by all ages. All I can say is...Wow!” —Readers’ Favorite

“The FunGkins: The Battle For Halladon is a Superbly Crafted Fantasy Adventure.” —The Mid West Review

Paperback $15.99 for a limited time $11.99 E Book $9.99 for a limited time $4.99










KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.











Ages 8-12 My Dog is Better Than Your Dog: Crime Biters! #1 by Tommy Greenwald Scholastic, Inc. |


’m one of those kids who likes to stay busy, because it helps me forget that I don’t have a lot to do. Which makes sense, right? That’s why, on the morning of August 26, I wasn’t just eating cereal. I was also searching for funny dog videos on the computer. And I was watching YouTube clips of my favorite old TV show—STOP! POLICE! And I was rereading a Jonah Forrester book—Fang Goodness—for approximately the six hundred and twenty-eighth time. In other words, Tuesday, August 26, was a typical summer morning, until my sister, Misty, walked into the kitchen, looked at me, and dropped her phone. “EW!” she screamed. “Jimmy, you have a huge blotch on your face!” Fact: There’s never a good time for a blotch to suddenly appear on your face, but some times are worse than others. And 8:24 in the morning, two days before the first day of fifth grade, is probably just about the worst time of all. By the way, I had no idea what a blotch was. “What’s a blotch?” I asked Misty. “A big, disgusting, gross mark!” she explained happily. All of a sudden, a feeling of panic filled my chest. “MOM!” I called. But then I remembered she wasn’t home, as usual. She left

really early for work every day, and came home late too. “DAD!” My dad, who was in the TV room, came in and took a look. “Wow,” he said, “she’s a beaut.” My Dog is Better than Your Dog: Crime Biters! #1. Copyright 2015 by Tommy Greenwald. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Scholastic, Inc.




Ages 9-12 Dream on Amber by Emma Shevah Sourcebooks |


ella’s hands were behind her back like she was hiding something. She looked much happier than she did when we got home from the party. She moved her arms to the front and handed me a sealed envelope. “What’s this?” I asked, putting my sharpener down. “Can you mail it for me tomorrow?” I looked at the front of the envelope. There was nothing written on it. “But it’s blank, Bella.” “Yuuup.” “Who’s it for?” “None of your beeswax, Mrs. Nosy Pants.” “Um…okay. So you…you want me to put it in the mailbox?” “Yes, Amber. Duuuh. That’s what mailing means.” “But how is the mailman going to know who to give it to if it has no name on it?” “Oh,” she said, frowning. She lay down on her belly on the floor and with her red crayon from the dollar store (well, she wasn’t borrowing any of mine), she wrote on the front of the envelope: “TO MY DAD.” I looked at her. “Bella—” “Shush,” she said. “Just mail it for me.” “But there’s no address on it—” “The mailman will know where he lives. He knows where everyone lives.” “He won’t know where Dad lives. Nobody

knows where Dad lives. Not even Mum.” “Didn’t I say ‘shush’? I’m sure I said ‘shush.’ Just mail it for me. Pleeease, Amber.” I sighed. What was I supposed to tell her? She was too little. She didn’t get it. So I took it and put it on my desk, just to make her happy. I know I shouldn’t have done it and it’s probably against the law and everything but when she went out of my room, I opened it. Dream on Amber. Copyright 2015 Emma Shevah. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks.





Ages 10-14 Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre Penguin Young Readers Group |


s soon as I saw Daddy’s dump truck sitting in the car line, shaking and rattling like it was about to throw a rod, I knew Sally Martin would have something snide to say. Mama usually drove me home, but Daddy had mentioned at breakfast that he had to pick up an old section of bleachers from the football field and might as well save her a trip. I could see a rusty end of it sticking up behind the cab. “Nice ride, Louise,” she said. “You headed to the dump?” A couple of kids laughed, and I calculated the chances of getting suspended for fighting on the last day of school. Benjamin Zerto, my best friend, leaned closer and whispered, “You won’t have to see her for the whole summer. Take a deep breath and count to ten.” As if. I looked at Sally and smirked. “You better stand back. My dad’s used to picking up useless crap and hauling it away. You could be next.” I was rewarded with a gasp from Sally and a grin from Benzer, a win-win. The car line moved, and I could hear the roar of the truck as it lumbered forward. Normally the car line would have been packed with kids and I’d have had some backup in addition to Benzer. But most kids had left early, as soon as they had report cards and attendance awards. Even Franklin, the brains of our group, and my cousin Patty, were gone. “I don’t know how you stand it,” Sally sighed. “Being surrounded by junk would be bad enough, but it looks like your house

is about to fall down around your ears. My father says it’s a crime to have such an eyesore right smack in the middle of town.” I rolled my eyes. My house was a common target with Sally. I’d told her before that it looked old because it was—it had had its 175th birthday last year. I wouldn’t waste my breath mentioning it again. Last in a Long Line of Rebels. Copyright 2015 by Lisa Lewis Tyre. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Penguin Young Readers Group.




Ages 10-14 The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst Houghton Mifflin Harcourt |


ophie,” said her mother, holding a dreamcatcher tightly, “we need you to step away from the monster so we can turn him into a dream.” “No!” Sophie shrieked. She threw her arms around the monster’s neck. “Please, I promise I’ll take care of him. You won’t even know he’s here. Give him a chance. He’s special. Can’t you see? And he likes me.” “You think this…thing will be your friend?” Dad asked. “He’s a monster. He could decide you’re his midnight snack. He could rampage through town. Last thing this town needs is a rampaging monster.” Sophie knelt next to the monster. “If you stay, will you be my friend?” The monster licked her cheek. He then looked directly in her eyes with his wide lemur eyes and said in a gravelly voice, “Yes. I will be an excellent friend for you, Sophie.” Mom dropped the dreamcatcher. “He talks!” Sophie patted the monster’s head. “He’s a very clever monster. Please, please let him stay!” The monster lolled his tongue out and tucked his extra tentacles behind him so he looked more like a cat or a stuffed animal than a monster. He turned his wide eyes on Sophie’s parents. Mom knelt in front of the monster. “If you mean my daughter any harm, I will

personally skin you before shoving you back into a dream. Understood?” The monster managed to look solemn as he nodded. “I will protect her,” he said and wound his tentacles tighter around her, comfortingly warm. The Girl Who Could Not Dream. Copyright 2015 by Sarah Beth Durst. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.




science fiction

Ages 10-14 Escape from Dorkville by Dean Ammerman Kabloona


ook, I didn’t come all this way to die and not get a vacation with conga music and drinks with little umbrellas,” I said. “Your talk is inefficient and annoying, Lulu,” Constipation Lady said. Let me just say that Glandoria Kattaminchy de Federosa is a waste of space even in an infinite expanding universe. I was about to add a word or two on that subject when I saw a black metal pole with a flashing yellow light at the top. Was it a mirage? Was I hallucinating? “What is that thing?” I asked, pointing at the shimmering, blinking, out-of-place object in the distance. “We are in luck—saved, even,” Cardamon Webb said matter-of-factly. “Saved?” Constipation Lady said, looking up from her clipboard. “I must tell Philly!” “It is an Interstellar Emergency Beacon,” Cardamon Webb said. “Press the button and it lets the Emergency Services Team know we need immediate help. Kind of like 9-1-1. It summons police, fire and medical services and sometimes psychologists, lawyers and caterers.” I looked around at the desolate landscape: sand, a few rocks, a bunch of suns and us. That was about it. “What’s it doing here?” I asked. “Not that we can’t use a little help, since we’re dying and everything.”

“It must have been put here by mistake,” Cardamon Webb said. “Some kind of galactic mix-up.” Which is when everybody’s dehydrated and sun-fried brains began to process what Cardamon Webb was actually saying. “So we’re not going to die?” Wilkin asked. “Not yet,” Cardamon Webb said. Escape from Dorkville. Copyright 2015 by Dean Ammerman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kabloona.




Ages 8-12 The Princess Games by Danai Kadzere Lands Atlantic Publishing | |


hink what you might, the next round of the competition is to rescue you,” said Karl, feigning a confidence that he did not feel. “And so that they may rescue you, you must first be imprisoned.” “Oh, great!” grumbled the prince. “You think you’re visiting a neighboring kingdom for a nice little vacation and picking out a pretty wife, but nooooo—you’re there to be locked up instead! You Hoggenbottomers have a most peculiar manner of making your guests feel welcome!” But then the prince thought of the girl on the horse. Would she perhaps rescue him? What would she do—scale the tower using a trellis and nimble movements of swift strength? Knock down the tower with sheer wit? He had to admit—only to himself, of course, as princes do not have to do anything for anyone else—that he was rather interested in finding out. Karl was already gathering another breath—how to deal with this troublesome, head-strong prince? But the prince cut him off. “Very well,” he said, “lock me in your tower. Let us see what the fair maidens of Hoggenbottom can do.” Karl almost started to protest, before he realized that the prince had succumbed to imprisonment. WHAT? Since when do princes change their minds? Karl decided not to question it. It was, after all, what

he wanted. Now he had other concerns, namely getting the prince there promptly and calling around for a good dragon or three-headed beast. Was there not a witch or two who owed the Royal Family of the fair Kingdom of Hoggenbottom a favor? Time, time, time! They were running short on time! The Princess Games. Copyright 2015 by Danai Kadzere. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lands Atlantic Publishing.



12-year-old Elena Barrios’ father has AIDS, a new disease in 1991 with a 100% fatality rate. Rather than face certain ridicule and ostracism, Elena tells her friends anything but the truth, fabricating stories about her father being a writer and researcher. But the reality is that Elena resents her father’s illness and can’t face the fact that he is dying. When she is befriended by a woman named Ang who tells stories about her own father, Elena is transported into these stories, allowing her to experience them first hand. With Ang’s help, Elena gains the courage to stand up to the bully at her school, mend her relationship with her father, and finally say goodbye.


JEM recommends Ages 9-13

Jem Burch is in the 7th grade. He loves words and enjoys participating in Scrabble tournaments and spelling bees. His favorite books are the Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall. Jem is an avid short story writer and poet and plans to be an author of many novels when he grows up. He also enjoys ping pong, bowling, running, and collecting minerals.



Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson Sterling Children’s Books |

[Review] Zack Delacruz prefers to lie low at school. Bullies target him because of his appearance, so he tries to fade into the background. But sometimes things do not always turn out the way that Zach expects. One day, after several chance circumstances, Zack finds himself standing up to the bully, thereby getting himself into more problems than he bargained for. Suddenly, he is placed in charge of a school fundraiser with the entire sixth grade counting on him. Worst of all, his partner is the bully! I found this book very realistic and engaging. Though some of the details were slightly exaggerated, it did not detract from my enjoyment. The author, Jeff Anderson, is very insightful about accurately depicting the conflicts and challenges that kids face when confronting bullies. Though this book did not have a particularly complex plot, the character progressions were evident. I thought the writing was poignant and light and would easily recommend.

LARA’S reads Ages 10-14

The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt |

[Review] Best friends Rosie and Adam are book worms. At even the mention of books they glow with excitement. One day, they find a locked up book in an old dusty cupboard. Letting their curiosity get the best of them, they open it. Writing magically appears and disappears in the book on its own. They are fascinated, yet scared. When they uncover a terrifying secret, this throws them into panic. The book has the power to make people disappear. It can even do that to them. When disaster strikes in Adam’s family, they struggle to fight against the book. I LOVED THIS BOOK! Being a book nerd myself, like the characters, I found myself relating to them, and I bet you will too. Just like Rosie and Adam, I often let curiosity get the best of me. Fortunately, it doesn’t result in horrible consequences like it does with these characters. This book drew me into it with every page, each page more exciting that the one before it. I definitely recommend this book if you like mystery and adventure.

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



COVERS with Judd Winnick

Judd Winick has been an artist since birth—well, almost that long. He attended the University of Michigan School of Art where he drew a daily cartoon for the school paper. Since then he’s done work for TV, comic books, and more. Come with us Under the Covers to see how Judd made his graphic novel, Hilo, come to life!



My folks like to tell a story about when I was in first grade and my teacher would hand out “drawing guides.” Simply put, they were pictures that we were supposed to copy. Like a jack-o’-lantern around Halloween. So in the hall outside of my first grade classroom hung all these very neat and similar-looking pumpkins that every kid in class drew. But eventually I asked if I could just do my own drawing instead of copying the one my teacher provided. She agreed. And around Thanksgiving, outside the class hung all these neat and similar-looking turkeys, and one drawing of American Indians (mine). After that, other kids started asking if they could do their own drawings. By Presidents Day, where in past years there would be rows of very neat and similar-looking Abraham Lincolns hanging outside her classroom, there was now a mess of misshapen faces drawn by six- and seven-year-olds. My “art” was a disruptive influence. 31

[The idea for Hilo] began with a simple image of a sad boy looking up at the night, and then something bright and fiery falls out of the sky. It crashes and explodes in a huge crater. The boy runs to the crater to find...a boy, his age. That was the very first idea that caught hold. After that came all the fun.



Some panels take just a few minutes; others may take hours. It depends on what has to be drawn. I have a double-page spread that I’m about to draw for the next book that will take all day! And I’d say that each Hilo book from start to finish takes about a year. I joke with people that Hilo is an “artisanal comic book.” I draw with a pencil, on pre-cut comic book boards—meaning paper. I ink with marker and brushes. So it’s pretty oldschool. But we go high-tech after that. I scan the inked pages and do the lettering in the Manga Studio application. My brilliant colorist, Guy Major, colors the book on computer.


I’ve done a lot of stuff. I did a syndicated comic strip (Frumpy the Clown), wrote and drew my own comic book series (The Adventures of Barry Ween), created and produced an animated series for Cartoon Network (The Life and Times of Juniper Lee), and wrote a bunch of superhero comics, like Batman and Green Arrow and X-Men.



What I’m proudest of about Hilo is that all of my previous work has gone into making this book. It was like taking superhero comics and mixing them in a blender with funny comic strips, and out came Hilo. It’s an all-ages book, like a Pixar movie. Goofy but exciting. Funny, but a bit sad, too. I think all those things led me right here to making Hilo. From making trouble in first grade to right here. 35

on our shelf

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelly Pearsall

Playing Juliet by JoAnne Stewart Wetzel

Random House Children’s Books

Ages 8–12


Ages 10–13


hen Arthur is sentenced to perform community service after an outburst of anger in the wake of his father’s death, he finds himself working under an extraordinary man known only as the Junk Man. When the Junk Man sends him out to collect the Seven Most Important Things, Arthur learns that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that the most valuable thing a person can learn is the power of forgiveness and persistence. Through Arthur’s mistakes and the Junk Man’s masterpiece, readers learn that nothing is more beautiful than a second chance.



Sky Pony Press t Beth Sondquist’s local children’s theater, just about everything that could go wrong does, and soon the young actors and actresses learn that their beloved playhouse is at risk of shutting down. The closure of the theater means that Beth’s chances of living her dream of starring in Romeo and Juliet are limited. Will she have time to make her dream come true or, better yet, prevent the theater from closing? Beth demonstrates the hard work and dedication that go into producing a play, and the fears and joys that everyone backstage and onstage experience. This novel is relatable for any fan of dramas and offers middle grade readers a great introduction to Shakespeare.

The Watchmen of Port Fayt by Conrad Mason

A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt

Scholastic, Inc.


Ages 8–12


swashbuckling world of magic and adventure await readers who visit Port Fayt where humans live side by side with trolls, elves, and fairies. Enter Joseph Grubb, a half goblin boy who dreams of adventures at sea instead of cleaning up his uncle’s tavern. Joseph proves to be witty, resourceful, and intelligent. He defies all the labels placed upon him and turns out to be a hero who saves his town from black magic. The colorful and vibrant Watchmen of Port Fayt are a ragtag group of misfits that work outside of the law as they try to protect the port from evil. Their lack of certain skills lead to many laughs and hilarious mishaps.

Ages 8–12


ren Matthews is a strongwilled smarty that doesn’t back down from a challenge. Only this adventure will have her doubting reality and the truth behind old fashioned nursery rhymes, which take on a whole new meaning as Wren learns that the magic of Stardust shapes the world as she knows it. Wren is able to control the stardust in a way none before her have, except for an evil traitor. Wren’s character is tried when others believe her to be connected to the old evil and she will need the strength of her friends to make it through her problems. A thrilling ride with a great plot and strong characters that will leave readers breathless. 37


Ages 8-14

Grab some paper, cardboard, duct tape, and other materials

and get ready to blast away boredom! Inventive young builders will love creating awesome projects such as treasure chests, tin can robots, space stations, swords and armor, and a whole lot more. With easy to follow step-by-step instructions, readers will be building their own fantastic projects in no time!



The Big Book of Building: Duct Tape, Paper, Cardboard, and Recycled Projects to Blast Away Boredom by Marne Ventura Capstone Press

graphic novel

Apocalypse Meow Meow by James Proimos Bloomsbury USA

Ages 8-12


rownie, Apollo, and their ragtag group of strays have raided the grocery store and defeated some very mean mutts—but now they’ve run out of food. So when the crew discovers a nearby Twonkies factory, and all the Twonkies they could ever eat, they think they’ve got it made.

The only catch is the cat guarding the factory—and this “cat” is MUCH bigger, and far more sophisticated than any feline they’ve ever met. Can the dogs and their friends defeat their foe and claim the Twonkies for themselves?


nonfiction Ages 8-12

Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin & Marianne Dyson National Geographic Society


pace is still the final frontier and Mars continues to make news and attract generations of young people. In this fascinating book, heroastronaut Buzz Aldrin challenges curious kids to think about Mars as not just a faraway red planet but as a possible future home for Earthlings! What will your new home be like? How will you get there? What will you eat for breakfast? Find out what life might be like far, far from Earth as you navigate your way through this fun and fascinating book. What kid wouldn’t want to blast off with him on this (literary) journey!



BOOK SHELF The Princess Games by Danai Kadzere


The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

ing Winkle and Queen Periwinkle’s Princess Games bring the fairest maidens of the land to the castle, fairy-godmothers in tow! The adventure begins with a goofy king, an obsessive compulsive advisor, and a fairy godmother whose spells rarely behave. Throw in a meddling mother, a misplaced potato farmer, and a nefarious plot for the throne and it’s The Princess Games!

hey existed only in our imagination…UNTIL NOW. This is the first visual discovery of all the creatures in the series and is written as if the reader is the new caretaker of the Fablehaven preserve. It has all sorts of insider’s knowledge the new caretaker of Fablehaven would have to know! Features bonus chapter on the upcoming sequel, Dragonwatch!

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Available at Amazon and Indiebound.

The Central Park Tales written and illustrated by Marcus Meesters


he Central Park Tales is a delightful children’s book about the adventures of the animals that live in Central Park. It contains 10 short stories with 60 beautiful color illustrations. Because many of the illustrations depict real places in Central Park, the book is especially appealing to children who live in New York City. Available in hardcover and eBook. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BookBaby Bookshop, and iBooks.



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. 214.704.4182.

BOOK SHELF Gorgon (Whipeye Chronicles, Book 2) by Geoffrey Saign


amantha and Jake have two days to save their poisoned parents, and only Gorgon—the cruel and scheming leader of Amazon Lessers—can help them. Mysterious creatures, dragons, and Gorgon force them into a life or death adventure that some will not survive… Available at Amazon. Mickey Price: Journey to Oblivion by John P. Stanley


ickey, Trace , and Jonah are invited to a NASA camp, but this camp isn’t for summer fun. It’s a training camp for a mission unlike anything they ever dreamed of, an adventure full of danger, thrills, fun, and an interesting cast of characters, not all of which are human. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Lucy and the Magic Loom by Alice Downes


hen Lucy discovers a mysterious package at her front door, she’s certain it’s meant for her. She unties the green string and tears open the simple brown paper to reveal a loom—a golden magic loom, which leads her to a dusty bookcase and through a secret passageway, into an enchanted world. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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. 214.704.4182.

BOOK Penny Dreadful and the.Horrible Hoo Hah by Joanna Nadin

Victory on the Homefront by D.S. Grier


y name is not actually Penny Dreadful. It is Penelope Jones. The Dreadful bit is my dad’s JOKE. Actually, I am not even dreadful at all. I didn’t mean for Marlon, who is our school goat, to eat a mobile phone or do some poo that looks like chocolate drops.

fter 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 phone lines, which seems like a great idea until the FBI comes calling. It’s time for Les to go, so he plans his escape. Available at Amazon. Available at Amazon.


Time Trapped by Richard Ungar


he high-octane sequel to Time Snatchers. Caleb thought he’d escaped Uncle’s clutches and could have a normal life in 1968, but no such luck. After being forcibly returned to Timeless Treasures and his old job of stealing valuable objects from the past, he learns that things have gotten even more sinister. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.


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. 214.704.4182.

character spotlight

Ages 8-12

Legend of Rhyme

Ages 8-12 by Jaime Lee Mann Blue Moon Publishers

Teagan Rogers is the spunky young heroine of Teagan of Tomorrow, the third installment in a new series written by Jaime Lee Mann. Packed with mythical creatures and laced with suspense, the Legend of Rhyme series is perfect for readers who love fantasy. MS: Teagan, welcome to Middle Shelf! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Teagan: Oh, you’re welcome, but I hope we can keep it quick! I’m kind of in a hurry to fulfill my destiny. Some pretty important people are waiting for me. MS: Promise, we’ll only take a couple of minutes. Teagan: Great! Hey, do you have a spot where I can 44


charge my phone? I haven’t seen an outlet since I fell into that tree.

falling into Jell-O. And then I woke up in a world without color.

MS: Sure, you can plug it in over there. And can you tell our readers about that? About how it felt to be sucked into a tree? Teagan: It was so weird! I tripped over my shoelace and fell, but the tree I fell into? I actually fell INTO it. Like, there was no hard, stiff wooden trunk. It felt like

MS: We loved that scene in the book. What was that like? To have the power to add color to the world? Teagan: I felt like I was in a black-and-white coloring book. And then like I was the crayon. When I started to walk around, everything I touched woke up, and then I met that fairy, Suri. And you

read the story. You know what happened next. MS: Yes! We don’t want to spoil anything for our readers! Teagan: Just a warning to any of you who happen to have a Coraira opal like mine, to watch out for ancient pixie trees.

MS: Do you think you’ll ever find the twins, Asher and Ariana Caine? Teagan: Oh, I hope so. I’d like to see what all the fuss is about with those two. And it would be sort of cool to meet someone with the same face as me. 

will continue in the next novel, Second Twin. Do you think my phone is done charging yet? I’ve been missing a ton of photo opportunities. MS: Looks like you have a little bit of battery life now! What’s the first thing you’ll take a picture of?  Teagan: Hmm. I think I’d like to get a shot with the ruler of the magic realm, Calla, and definitely Starla. The fairy, Cinnamon, is pretty cool, too. And I’m dying to see if I can spot one of the pixies.

MS: We assume that we’ll be able to continue following your adventures in the next book in the Legend of Rhyme series? Teagan: Yes! My story

MS: You sound so excited and happy! Do you miss home? Teagan: It was horrible back there. I don’t miss my foster parents at all, but some of the other kids were pretty cool.

MS: Fair enough! Now, what do you think is next for you? Teagan: Well, I hope to meet the mermaid, Starla, and to learn what’s in store for me. 

My foster mother is probably still wondering why I didn’t come back with the milk she sent me for. MS: We’re happy you’ve found a new family! Teagan: Me, too! I hate to be rude, but I really should grab my skateboard and be off. MS: Thank you for chatting with us! We hope you’ll come back again when you have more time!  Teagan: Yup! Sure! See ya. Oh, and if I were you, I would watch out for toads. 45

publisher’s corner special accessibility features to break down any potential barriers for children with dyslexia.

How the company got its name

How Barrington Stoke got started

Barrington Stoke began in the late 1990s and was the brainchild of a mother and daughter-in-law team, Patience and Lucy, both of whom had experience with dyslexic children. They were aware that lots of young people were effectively locked out of the new golden age of children’s books because they couldn’t access text well enough. Lucy had worked at Bloomsbury and Patience as a headteacher specialising in support for young learners with dyslexia. Together they cooked up the idea of a company publishing the great authors confident children were reading in shorter editions and with 46


It’s two place names—the village where Lucy grew up and Patience’s (then) house in Oxfordshire. In the early days, the books carried a little tale about a magical storyteller called Barrington Stoke, but Barrington was sent off to a well-earned retirement a few years back, to be replaced by our squirrel mascot Snugs and his slogan of ‘cracking reading’.

What makes Barrington Stoke special? We passionately believe in accessibility, and in quality. We publish brilliant short fiction anyone can enjoy, with accessibility features to help people with dyslexia, visual perception problems, or other issues. We believe that around 70% of our readers simply prefer a shorter book. Our accessibility informs both design and editorial. We

use a special font designed to reduce ambiguity and promote letter recognition. This can help combat poor visual perception. We use careful layout tricks to reduce crowding between letters, to help readers follow lines of text, and keep their place. Our gently tinted paper helps reduce visual stress. And all of our books are edited, with children’s help, to remove possible barriers to comprehension, particularly in terms of the tricky syntax which is often a feature of ‘literary’ writing.

The people behind the books

Our MD Mairi drives the publishing programme and is the public face of Barrington Stoke, speaking at festivals, conferences and events, and writing for our blog and other media. Our Sales and Marketing Director Jane and her right-hand woman Kirstin focus on getting the books to market. Emma, our editor, and Julie-ann, our Production Manager, make the books happen. And the rest of our

small team handle the website, finances and so on. The really key people, of course, are our authors and illustrators. We have been fortunate enough to publish some of the UK’s most iconic children’s book writers and illustrators.

books to check out

Awards and recognitions

We have been the Independent Publishers’ Guild Publisher of the Year, and our books have won a raft of awards and been nominated and short listed for dozens more. Better than all the awards put together, though, are all the gorgeous letters we receive every week from children and parents to tell us that our books have transformed their lives. Those definitely bring a tear to the eye and motivate us not just to keep going but also to get out there and advocate for more responsible attitudes to text accessibility across the children’s publishing industry as a whole. The best feedback we received recently was from an 11-yearold with dyslexia who told us, “Before I heard of Barrington Stoke I couldn’t read any books. Now I can read all of them.”

The Seal’s Fate by Eoin Colfer and Victor Ambrus Ages 8–12

Clare and her Captain by Michael Morpurgo and Catherine Rayner Ages 8–12



chool’s out in Bobby Parrish’s small fishing community, and the local kids have been roped into dealing with the seals menacing the shoreline. It’s good money, but Bobby knows he’s not got the heart to hurt these animals.

from Malorie Blackman called Peacemaker, an Recent and upcoming escaped ostrich and other middle grade releases. laugh-out-loud madness Next year we have some from Jeremy Strong in The fantastic stories coming out, including a futuristic adventure Ostrich of Pudding Lane,

hile on holiday in Devon, Clare escapes her parents’ squabbling by exploring the surrounding countryside. She soon finds friendship with retired horse, Captain, and his reclusive owner. A charming tale from Warhorse author Michael Morpurgo with captivating illustrations from Catherine Rayner.

and a fabulous story from superstar Karen McCombie called The OMG Blog about a group of girls and their blogging (mis)adventures—to name just a few! 47


of the book blogs The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin Little, Brown books for Young Readers Review by


Ages 8-12


nable to accept that Franny, the good swimmer, drowned, [and] unable to accept her mother’s explanation that “sometimes things just happen,” Suzy wants a justifiable reason why [her friend] died swimming. And she finds one that she believes is viable in the jellyfish exhibit while on a class trip to the local aquarium.  It seems that more and more young people must deal with the death of a friend in today’s world, and each responds to it in their own way.  What’s important in books like The Thing About

Jellyfish is seeing that a protagonist like Suzy may have a hard time with a death, but in the end there is the possibility of some kind of closure that enables them to go on.   I finished reading The Thing About Jellyfish the day the National Book Award finalists came out and at first, I was surprised to see it there, but that only made me think for about this debut novel and realize just what an important message there is to Suzy’s story.  


Middle Shelf would like to recognize the following blogs for promoting and exemplifying the spirit of Middle Grade books. MIDDLE SHELF MAGAZINE





Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia Time Home Entertainment Review by



y older son, now eighteen, grew up with DK books and videos about everything from trees and volcanoes to planets, the human body, and death. As a bookseller who got to see the whole range of encyclopedic books being published for kids, nothing came close to the crisp visual style of DK and the engaging way text is presented on the page. With this prejudice, it takes a lot for me to look at, let alone recommend, an encyclopedia by any other publisher. However, Animal Planet, in partnership with

Ages 8+ Time Inc. Books, has put together a visually attractive, fact-filled book that is worth the price and sure to make kids smile— and read. Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia is packed with information on over 2,500 animals and over 1,000 color photographs. It is divided into eight chapters with detailed profiles of the seven animal classes, which are also color coded. Great photos aside, there are definitely enough features in Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia to make it a worthwhile investment. 




Snowfall Falling snow is the sky touching the ground. Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton Dial Books for Young Readers

Ages 8-12



Last night the sky drifted down— flake by flake by flake, so pretty and graceful and quiet— then it bent low, poured out, and lay down in itself.

Best Friends Always I’m not mad at Stacey anymore, and I hope she isn’t mad at me as I dial her number tonight. “I’m sorry,” I say, and right away she says, “I’m sorry, too. Best friends?” “Always,” I say, feeling lighter now that my anger has disappeared. “Do you want to come over on Saturday and get ready for the dance together?” she asks. My heart still has a little bruise where her mom didn’t want me at her house, so I ask, “Can you come here instead?” “It’s really okay, Mimi,” she says. “Please?” I ask. And when she comes back to the phone and asks, “What time?” that bruise heals a little more. Full Cicada Moon. Copyright 2015 by Marilyn Hilton. Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers 51


You can see the face of God in the stars. After the Ashes by Sara K. Joiner Holiday House



cleopatra’s legacy DORINE WHITE

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 Book III:

The Diamond Looking Glass COMING IN OCTOBER 2015!


november/december 2015

contributors AMMERMAN, DEAN Ammerman lives in Minnesota with his wife and dog. Escape from Dorkville is his third novel. The first, Anteater-Boy, received a silver IPPY award. The second, Waiting for the Voo (the prequel to Dorkville) was named one of the Best Indie Books of 2014. BAUGH, ALEX Former New York City school teacher, Alex Baugh has been an avid reader since he was four, thanks to his parents. He prefers historical fiction, but will read anything if it’s good. His reviews can be found on his two blogs, Randomly Reading and The Children’s War. DURST, SARAH BETH Born in Northboro, Massachussetts, Durst attended Princeton, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. She is the author of nine fantasy novels, and currently lives in New York. GREENWALD, TOMMY Greenwald’s books include the highly semipopular Charlie Joe Jackson series and the new Crimebiters! series. He also has a day job at Spotco Advertising in New York City, which is fun and also helpful because he does a lot of his writing going in and out of the city on the train.

cool reads for cool kids.

HILTON, MARILYN Hilton is the author of two fiction and two nonfiction books. She has also published numerous articles, devotions, short stories, and poems in literary and consumer magazines, and has contributed to various compilations. Her work has won several awards, including the 2011 Sue Alexander Award. KADZERE, DANAI Kadzere is a recent graduate of Harvard University, living and writing in New York City. She loves traveling, being adventurous and baking. When not nose deep in a good book, or elbows high in flour, she can be found covering things in pink glitter, chasing her two cats, climbing trees, or acting. KIDD, MAIRI Mairi Kidd is the MD of award-winning publisher Barrington Stoke, which celebrates 17 years of cracking reading in 2015. The Edinburgh-based company has extensive experience of publishing exclusively for the struggling, reluctant and dyslexic reader and has over 350 books in print. LOMBARDO, CONSTANCE Lombardo started drawing when she was ten years old. She attended Syracuse University and later took more art classes in New York City. After moving to San Francisco and starting a family, she began writing and illustrating her own children’s books, including Mr. Puffball.

november/december 2015

contributors JAIME LEE MANN When Mann was nine years old, she decided that she would be an author when she grew up. Years later, her children would beg her to tell them stories at bedtime. One of those stories eventually became Elora of Stone, the first novel in the Legend of Rhyme series. MULL, BRANDON Mull is the author of New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Beyonders and Fablehaven series. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He now lives in a happy little valley with his wife and four children. SHEVAH, EMMA Shevah lives in London but has travelled far and wide. She has friends all over the world and hopes to visit them all soon. She speaks a couple of languages and is trying to learn Thai. She enjoys cooking but would rather be writing. She loves rain and storms and reading. TUREK, TANYA As a mother, children’s bookseller for almost 20 years, ardent reader of children’s literature, and elementary school librarian, she wants to help kids start their reading journey on the right path and spark a life long love of reading. Her book reviews appear on the blog Books 4 Your Kids.

TYRE, LISA LEWIS Lisa Lewis Tyre grew up in a small town in Tennessee surrounded by her crazy family and neighbours. She learned early on that not every child had a pet skunk, a dad that ran a bar in the front yard, or a neighbour that was so large his house had to be torn down to get him out. What else could she do but write? VOIGT, CYNTHIA Author of more than thirty books and the recipient of the Newbery and many other awards, Voigt has been a babysitter, secretary, waitress, transcribe for the Associated Press, teacher, and tutor. Her two current jobs are writer and grandmother. Mister Max is her newest book series for young readers. WINICK, JUDD In addition to his new graphic novel for kids, Hilo, Winick has also illustrated many superhero comics, created his own syndicated comic strip called Frumpy the Clown, and contributed to several animated TV shows, including The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, which ran on Cartoon Network. 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 to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids November/December 2015  

Readers 8 to 14, find your next favorite book in Middle Shelf. In this issue: Cynthia Voigt, Brandon Mull, Judd Winick, and more.

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