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ANNIVERSARY ISSUE Zombie Poetry Haunted Halloween Picks Back-2-School Reads



round Lake Fibian, Max, Cristobel, and Spyder are notorious. Stories of their pranks and troublemaking ways have followed them all of their lives. When they hear the tales about a creature called the Hoppernot, they believe the Elders are making up stories to keep young frogs (okay, mostly them) in line. But when frightened Elders announce a Hoppernot sighting, the trio think they know exactly what to do. With a nose for adventure—and because the Elders are all talk and no hop—they sneak off to

find out if the legendary creatures are real and discover Hoppernots not only exist, but they are destroying their home and putting lives at risk. The adventure begins when Max, Cristobel, and Spyder issue a call to action to drive the dangerous creatures away from their beloved home. Along the way, they discover a secret weapon, an unlikely alliance, and they must find a way to make the Elders forget their troublemaking past and trust them enough to follow them into a battle of survival and fight for the lake they call home or risk losing it . . . and their lives. Debut author Deborah Blake Dempsey weaves a fantastical tale for readers still young enough to be enchanted by woodland dwellers and for older readers who secretly believe in the magic and madness of the forest.


by Deborah Blake Dempsey Available at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook


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

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Illustration: Stitch Head: The Spider’s Lair written & illustrated by Guy Bass


“WhipEye is a gripping, imaginative adventure from start to finish. I didn’t want to put it down until the very last page!... I cannot wait to read book two!”    


amantha and her neighbor, Jake, have no idea that Samantha’s best friend, a parrot named Charlie, is a thousand years old. Charlie is also at the center of a secret battle between magical creatures and an ancient, evil man. When Charlie asks Samantha and Jake to protect him, they are chased by monsters from both sides. To save Charlie, and two worlds, Samantha and Jake have twenty-four hours to figure out how to use the supernatural staff, WhipEye, and find the courage to confront what they fear most… Available in Paperback and eBook at

Watch the book trailer HERE


september/october 2014



a word from the editor


themed books: haunted halloween


cool reads for cool kids




graphic novel

44 novelty 8

r.j. palacio interview with the author of Wonder


catherine jinks interview with the author of How to Catch a Bogle


debut author interview with jen malone


under the covers with artist tad carpenter


best reads for back 2 school


character spotlight a visit with stitch head & creature from the Stitch Head series


teak & lara’s reviews


publisher’s corner


best of the book blogs




last words



On the cover: Illustration by Tad Carpenter from Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Images from Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti, and How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks





Announcing the Third Annual Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Independently Published Book, sponsored by Bowker.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS The winner, finalists, and more than 100 notable books entered in the competition will be featured in the December/January 2015 issue of Shelf Unbound magazine. View last year’s winners HERE

Celebrate the Simple Life! Boys & Girls Ages 8 & Up

Penelope’s Corner: where readers are respected and childhood innocence is protected.

“Penelope is a breath of fresh air.”

A wholesome treasure trove of smiles, giggles and old-fashioned fun.

a word from the



here are so many exciting reasons to celebrate this issue of Middle Shelf Magazine, I hardly know where to begin! First, Middle Shelf debuted in October 2013, making this our one year anniversary issue. So, happy birthday to us! This year has flown by so fast. And I am thrilled to see where this next year will take us. Second, we have two very special guests in this issue—the one and only R.J. Palacio, author of the phenomenal best-selling book, Wonder. She is here to chat about her new book, 365 Days of Wonder. Also, appearing in our Under the Covers feature is the cover artist for Wonder, Tad Carpenter. Third, in lieu of our usual On Our Shelf feature, this issue boasts an expanded section of Back-2-School book reviews. We also have some amazing reviews by our very own pre-teen book experts, Teak and Lara. They have some incredible titles to share with you. Finally, with Halloween just around the corner, this issue is jam-packed with zombies, ghosts and ghouls—including an interview with the awardwinning author Catherine Jinks, whose book How to Catch a Bogle is the perfect Halloween read! In addition to these fantastic features, be sure to check out all the other fun stuff, such as the excerpts, character spotlight, and publisher’s corner. Somewhere in these pages, there is a book just waiting for you to discover it. Enjoy! Happy reading! Laurisa White Reyes editor-in-chief CLICK HERE to subscribe to Middle Shelf magazine for FREE. Find Middle Shelf on Facebook:



There’s a new superhero in town!



ixteen-year-old Rinnie Noelle has to deal with all the headaches of any ordinary teenager attending a dysfunctional school—namecalling, humiliation, the joy of being a total outcast. Algebra. But Rinnie is far from ordinary. She’s a Psi Fighter, a protector of the innocent, fiercely skilled in the Mental Arts. Which comes in handy when she has to don her mask and armor to take down a vicious criminal, but is totally useless at school against the drug dealing bullies, who, by the way, she could totally mop the floor with. But mopping said floor with said bullies would give away the secret of her true identity. Once that’s out, the Walpurgis Knights, deadly criminals from her past, will hunt her down, torture her, and capture the other Psi Fighters. The Knights are like the bad guys plus, like super villains on a steady diet of prune juice and fiber. They are just miserable people. When Rinnie learns that they have sent their apprentice to her school to find her, she decides to expose his identity before he uncovers hers. She just has to figure out who he is. Aided by the Dweeb League, a band of oddly shaped, politically imperfect outcasts, Rinnie sets off on a journey to capture the apprentice, only to find that the man who sent him is the one person she wants to forget—the man who tried to kill her ten years earlier.

Can she survive him twice?


author interview

365 Days of Wonder

Ages 8-12 Random House Children’s Books

R.J. Palacio I

n her #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, R.J. Palacio and the book’s young star, Auggie, captured the hearts of readers the world over. Now, with 365 Days of Wonder, Palacio shares the precepts introduced by Mr. Browne, Auggie’s teacher. This collection of memorable quotes, one for every day of the year, is drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. They celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent Ms. Palacio their own precepts.

“Beauty can be found in the most unlikely places.” 8


Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf, Ms. Palacio. We are excited about your new book, 365 Days of Wonder. Can you tell us a little about it? R.J. Palacio: In Wonder, Mr. Browne, Auggie’s English teacher, uses “precepts” with his fifth grade class as a way of getting his students to really open up. At the beginning of the school year, and then at the start of every month after that, he introduces a precept, which he describes as kind of a motto, or words to live by, and then begins a group discussion about the precept. He asks the kids to write the precepts down and then to write a short essay about them at the end of the month. By the end of the year, the kids have compiled a list of truly wonderful life rules, and are asked to write one of their own down on a postcard and send it to him over the summer. 365 Days of Wonder is a compilation of those precepts— one for every day of the year. Interspersed throughout, we also hear from Mr. Browne himself in the form of essays, and we get some updates on how some of the characters from Wonder are doing, including Summer, Jack, Auggie, Charlotte, Amos, and...Julian.

MS: Do you have any precepts of your own? Palacio: I put some of my very favorite precepts in the book already. One of my favorites is the one by Sir Thomas Browne: “We carry within us the wonders we seek around us.” I also like the one that applies to Julian: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I tell my kids never to judge other people because you never really know what they’re going through.

“I tell my kids never to judge other people because you never really know what they’re going through. ” Photography: Russell Gordon


MS: Why do you think so many people have fallen in love with Auggie? Palacio: I think it’s because he seems quite real to people. He’s an ordinary little boy, doing the best he can do, and he makes mistakes, and he’s not too precocious about things. He’s aware, but not really self-aware, and that makes him endearing. He’s also got a self-deprecating sense of humor. I’ve always found that to be one of the best qualities a human being can have. MS: The Julian Chapter is a companion story to Wonder. What prompted you to write a story from the bully’s perspective? Palacio: I knew all along that Julian had a story to tell, but it didn’t belong in Wonder, which was Auggie’s story from beginning to end. Julian’s narrative was a parallel story to Auggie’s, one that only intersected with Auggie’s story for a little while. But I knew I wanted to shed some light on his character, on what motivated him, and to find some compassion for him. I knew he wasn’t a “bad” boy, per se. He’s a work in progress, as all the characters in my books are, I think.

MS: Your bio says that you were an art director and book jacket designer, but that you had always wanted to write. What motivated you to finally write? Palacio: I’ve actually always been writing, even while I made my living designing book covers for other people. I have a cabinet file full of half-written novels and stories and book ideas. But when I started writing Wonder, it was different. Maybe after years of tinkering at the craft of writing, I was finally ready to get to the hard work. Or maybe it was just that I finally had something that made me write. I mean, the only time of day I could write was from midnight to 3am every day, and I did that for a year and a half until I finished writing the book. It was the characters, the world I was creating, that actually gave me the discipline I needed to do that. They made me get up and write every night. They were incredibly insistent on being born. MS: What does R.J. stand for, and why did you use your initials instead of your full name? Palacio: R.J. stands for my real name: Raquel Jaramillo. Palacio was my moth-

“He’s also got a self-deprecating sense of humor. I’ve always found that to be one of the best qualities a human being can have.” 10


“I love to read. And if you love to read, you know that you can learn a little from everything you read.” er’s maiden name. My mom always told me I’d become a writer someday. She believed in my writing a lot, and since she was the most well-read person I’ve ever known, I believed her. She died before I wrote Wonder, so she never saw her prediction about me coming true. Taking her name was my way of honoring her.

MS: Have any books influenced you as a writer? Palacio: There have been so many writers who’ve influenced me: too many to name. You might go 300 pages into a mediocre book but still come away with a memorable line or an image that stays with you. Beauty can be found in the most unlikely places. 11


author interview

How to Catch a Bogle

Ages 9-12 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Catherine Jinks B

irdie McAdam, a ten-year-old orphan, is tougher than she looks. She’s proud of her job as apprentice to Alfred the Bogler, a man who catches monsters for a living. Birdie lures the bogles out of their lairs with her sweet songs, and Alfred kills them before they kill her. On the mean streets of Victorian England, hunting bogles is actually less dangerous work than mudlarking for scraps along the vile river Thames (see glossary!). Or so it seems—until the orphans of London start to disappear.

Middle Shelf: What exactly is a Bogle? Catherine Jinks: A bogle is a general name for a monster in the north of Britain; you can also spell it “boggle” or “bogill,” or you can use the word “boggart” or “bogey,” if you prefer. MS: Why did you set How to Catch a Bogle in Victorian England? Jinks: I wanted to write a story in which a 10-year-old child would be leading a very 12


“History is one big, never-ending story.”

active life, involved in all kinds of dangerous and exciting things. Since children in Victorian England were at the heart of the economy, working on every street-corner and risking their lives in the process, I thought it was the obvious choice for a setting. MS: You studied Medieval history at university. Has your interest in history influenced you as a writer? Jinks: I don’t think my interest in history has influenced me as a writer; I think the fact that I love stories—and that I’m always chasing stories—has led to my interest in history. History is one big, never-ending story, and the more you know about it, the more interesting it becomes.   MS: There are plenty of ghosts and monsters in your books. Do you have some favorites? Jinks: I think my favorite monster is Reuben, the werewolf in The Reformed Vampire Support Group—though I’m not sure you can really call him a monster; he’s just a guy with a genetic condition. Maybe my scariest GENUINE monster is Miss Molpe, the siren in The Paradise Trap. She’s like a witch, but worse; she has no positive side at all. I dislike her much more than I dislike my bogles, which are really just dumb beasts doing what they have to do—like sharks or cockroaches.

MS: Book 2 in the bogle series, A Plague of Bogles, comes out in January. Can you give us a sneak peek? Jinks: A Plague of Bogles is all about Jem Barbary, a former pickpocket, who becomes a bogler’s boy when Alfred Bunce—the bogler—has to come out of retirement because so many children have started to disappear in one small part of London. It soon becomes obvious that there’s a plague of bogles in the area—and that the cause of the plague is linked to a dark figure in Jem’s past. People who liked the first book will be pleased to know that Alfred and Jem aren’t the only characters to return for an encore; Birdie, Miss Eames, Ned Roach and even Josiah Lubbock are waiting in the wings. 13


debut author interview

At Your Service

Ages 9-13 Aladdin

Jen Malone C

hloe loves working as a junior concierge at an exclusive NYC hotel. Her position comes with tons of perks like cupcake parties, backstage passes to concerts, and even private fittings with the hippest clothing designers. But Chloe hasn’t faced her toughest challenge yet. When three young royals (including a real-life PRINCE!) come to stay, Chloe’s determined to prove once and for all just how good she is at her job. Except the trip is a total disaster—especially when the youngest royal disappears. Now it’s up to Chloe to save the day.

Middle Shelf: What inspired you to write At Your Service? Jen Malone: I really wanted the book to be chock full of insider-y dish on hotel life, so I read non-fiction memoirs by hotel staffers, watched full seasons of The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, and took a Boston concierge to coffee for a real first-person perspective on the ups and downs of a concierge’s job. The other big thing this book is (hopefully!) is a 14


“The other big thing this book is (hopefully!) is a love letter to New York City.”

love letter to New York City. Probably my favorite part of researching this book was the few hours I spent on the phone with a Rockette. She walked me through what a rehearsal would look like, minute-byminute, so I could get every detail right. MS: Did your visit to Europe and working as a publicist influence the book? Malone: When I was just out of college, I spent a year  traveling the world solo. When I returned from that trip, I spent a year managing a youth hostel in Boston and, while the hostel was quite removed from the opulence of Chloe’s Hotel St. Michele, as the manager, I was also a concierge of sorts. As a Hollywood publicist based in Boston, one of my jobs was setting up press tours for visiting movie stars. [Part of my job description was to] visit the  actors’ hotel  ahead of time and make sure their toilets flushed and the lights next to their beds worked. Sometimes they had crazy requests. For instance, one actor wanted “quadruple stuff Oreos” and I actually spent a morning taking apart double stuff Oreos and smooshing them together! MS: So you like hedgehogs. A lot. Why? Malone: Well, I mean, have you seen them? They’re sooooo darn cute and the internet is a treasure-trove of hilarious and adorable hedgehog pictures/videos. Now that it’s become sort of “my thing,” people send them my way all the time, and I really can’t complain about being associated

with something so sweet. I’ve heard that some hedgehogs can be quite cranky and my husband is pretty adamantly opposed to us owning one since we’re away from home a lot and it wouldn’t be responsible of us, so at the moment I’m content to daydream and admire their cuteness from afar.  MS: Tell us about your upcoming tween series, RSVP. Malone: For one thing, it’s a true friendship story. For another, it’s my first co-written project (with my friend and very talented fellow author Gail Nall). RSVP is about four tween girls (best of friends) who decide to put their various skills and talents to use and form a party-planning “business” out of their abandoned-sailboat clubhouse (think of this as hitting somewhere between The Babysitters Club series  and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). 15

themed books:

HAUNTED HALLOWEEN ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN by Paolo Bacigalupi Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ages 8-12


he zombie apocalypse begins on the day Rabi, Miguel and Joe are practicing baseball near their town’s local meatpacking plant and nearly get knocked out by a really big stink. Little do they know the plant’s toxic cattle feed is turning cows into flesh-craving monsters! The boys decide to launch a stealth investigation into the plant’s dangerous practices, unknowingly discovering a greedy corporation’s plot to look the other way as tainted meat is sold to thousands all over the country. With no grownups left they can trust, Rabi and his friends will have to grab their bats to protect themselves (and a few of their enemies) if they want to stay alive...and maybe even save the world.



THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill Algonquin Books

ages 9-12


hen Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community. In the meantime, Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to stop the war about to boil over?


ages 9–12


his fast-paced, exciting, and emotionally rich fantasy novel for middle graders reads like a cross between The Phantom Tollbooth and Harry Potter. How can 12-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace? With the help of Paladin—a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature—he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father...or to his death.

BACKWARDS MOON by Mary Losure Holiday House

ages 8-12


racken and Nettle are the last young witches in the valley. Their mothers disappeared years ago in search of the secret Door to a world without humans, leaving the girls in the care of thirteen ancient witches. When the magical veil that protects their valley from humans is broached and the Wellspring Water needed to repair it is polluted, it is up to the girls to save the coven. The Door to the other world lies in the city, where witches suffer The Fading. Only young witches can resist The Fading long enough to stand a chance of finding the Door. Seeking stones, a wishing necklace, a wily raccoon, human Witchfriends, and their lost mothers help Bracken and Nettle on their quest. But it is thanks to their own courage, fledgling magic, and loving hearts that all ends well in this utterly enchanting novel. 17

themed books:


ages 8-12


laugh-out-loud funny middle-grade debut with a scary twist, My Zombie Hamster will appeal to readers who like their animal stories mixed with chills. Fans of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps Most Wanted series will grab this one right up. Matt Hunter and his buddies are looking forward to Christmas—actually, they’re looking forward to receiving the latest sword-and-fantasy video game. But Matt’s parents have other thoughts—they give him a fluffy little mammal, a hamster called Snuffles. And his grandmother makes it worse by giving him a hamster cage and wheel. But the hamster isn’t all that cute—at least not after part of its cheek and belly fall right off! And why is it staring at Matt with black beady eyes and a lean and hungry look? Say hello to Anti-Snuffles, the zombie hamster! Or better yet, run!



ZOMBIE ELEMENTARY: THE REAL STORY by Howard Whitehouse Tundra Whitehouse.Writer

ages 9-12


arry Mullet is your typical fourth grader. He’s not the biggest kid or the smartest kid or the best looking kid. He rides his bike, plays baseball, takes the school bus, avoids cafeteria food, and—oh yeah, he’s a zombie hunting expert. Larry was just doing his usual thing when Alex Bates from Ms. Hoag’s class tried to eat him. Sadly, that was only the beginning. Something odd was going on at Brooks Elementary...and it was up to Larry and his friends to take charge (for some reason). Hilariously told interview-style as a record of the REAL story, and peppered with zombie tips and facts, zombie cheerleaders and plenty of gore, this book will be a surefire hit for anyone interested in a ghoulishly good life-or-death comedy.



by Wendy Knight

by Alfred M. Struthers

Six Gate Press www.wendyknightauthor.

American Book, Inc. struthersbooks

ages 8-12

ages 8-12

hirteen-year-old halfbreed banshee, Seven, likes her life. She leads souls safely to Death and she has the planet’s most awesome dad and little brother. But a cryptic message from Atlantis asking for her help changes all that. And then there’s Death, who has decided it’s time to take her brother’s soul. Now she’s racing across the world, trying to stay one step ahead of Death. Unfortunately, getting to Atlantis from Ireland isn’t easy, and there are evil minions determined to keep her away every time she turns around. But fighting for their lives teaches Seven one very important lesson—she isn’t human, and she isn’t a banshee. She has to be both if she wants to save her brother and make it back home alive.

t looked like an ordinary book. Old and boring. But when 11-year-old Nathan Cole picks it up off the attic floor, strange things begin to happen; things he can’t explain...or ignore. The book leads him through a complex set of clues left by Alastair Raven, a renowned New York City architect who vanished in the mid 1800s, never to be heard from again. Through every twist and turn Nathan is convinced that Raven is reaching out to him, leading him to something. But what? What could a man who lived 150 years ago possibly want him to know? As Nathan works to answer that question, an even bigger mystery that dates back through his family for countless generations. See what surprises await him in this action-packed novel that shows how one book can change your life. Forever.












KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.











Ages 8-12 The Badger Knight by Kathryn Erskine Scholastic Press |


f it weren’t for the archers, the pagan Scots would pour over the border and kill us all. It’d be worse than the plague that took my mother and sister eight years ago. Good Aunt says the plague should’ve taken me because I’m so useless. Father says I may be different but I have as much right to live as anyone. And, he says, when I find my calling, I’ll prove it. I’ve already found my calling. I’m an archer. I’ve been practicing since we lost a third of the village in that plague. Back then, I was a puny, pale, sickly boy, barely five years old. Now I’m almost thirteen...and still puny, sickly, and pale as milk. A few people say being tiny and white as an angel is a good omen, but far more say I’m evil, that I was the cause of that plague, and that they see the devil in my eyes. If they do, I didn’t put him there. I’m no devil. Nor am I a tiny angel. Underneath my odd-looking outside I’m just me. Adrian. A boy—well, almost a man. They’ll see. I pick up my bow. The ash wood feels firm, yet flexible, in my hand. The weight is perfect. I made it myself, mostly. It’s a precision weapon. It’s not near as big as a longbow, of course, but I can dart in and out and reload faster than the five or six times per minute a longbow archer can handle. I draw back my bow and aim. My left eye is weaker so I only use my right and, on a sunny day like today, I spread dirt under

my eyes to cut the glare so I don’t have to squint as much. I may be called Badger, but I can hit my target every time. King Edward would be happy to have me fighting alongside him. He won the battle of Crécy last month because of expert archers like me. There hasn’t been such a victory since the battle of Sluys in 1340, but I was only six then so I wouldn’t have been much use. THE BADGER KNIGHT. Copyright © 2014 by Kathryn Erskine. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Scholastic Press, New York, NY.




Ages 8-12 Life On Mars by Jennifer Brown Bloomsbury USA |


ou would think that my earliest spacerelated memory would be about, well, space. It would make sense that I’d remember sitting outside, my legs and arms all covered with bug spray, as I wished on shooting stars and peered at the moon through a telescope. Or that I’d recall my father standing next to me, showing me the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, the North Star. But, no. My first space-related memory is about boogers. Because that’s what happens when you let sisters get involved in things—your best memories get all boogered up. I was four, and we were lying in the backyard looking for Orion, the Great Hunter in the sky. It was winter, so Dad had pulled our sleeping bags out of the garage and Mom made us hot cocoa, and we were all staring at three stars in a line that Dad said were supposed to make up Orion’s belt. Dad pointed straight up. “You see that haze on his hip, Arty?” “Yeah,” I whispered, goosebumps breaking out on my arms even though the cocoa was making my hands sweat inside my gloves. “You see it?” “Yeah, yeah.” “That, Arty, is the Horsehead Nebula.” “The Horsehead Nebula,” I repeated, letting out a long, satisfied sigh. “What is it?” “I just told you. The Horsehead Nebula.” “The Horsehead Nebula,” I said again. “What is a nebula made of?”

But before my dad—who knows everything there is to know about the winter sky, the summer sky, and every sky in between—could open his mouth, my older sister Vega piped up. “Boogers,” she said, and then giggled. “The whole sky is made of boogers.” Generally speaking, boogers are pretty awesome when you’re four. LIFE ON MARS. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Brown. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, New York, NY.



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Ages 8-12 Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser Egmont USA |


he trouble had begun when I’d leaned out of a dank hunting cave by the river that morning and peeked around at a herd of macrauchenia. The beasts had stood hoofdeep in the oozing mud of the riverbank, sucking up the brown water with their flexible little trunks and dumping it into their big toothy mouths. I had felt the cool wind gusting through the trees and shivered. For months now, it had seemed to me that our normally steamy jungle air had been slowly getting colder. The usually shiny green leaves on the gourd trees were a strange yellowish brown and now carpeted the forest floor. The beautiful red and violet orchids that normally grew in the sunny spots of the jungle had paled and shriveled. Even the gourd fruit— whose fuzzy pink shells my clan folk used to cover their private bits—were smaller this year, resulting in many uncomfortable glances and awkward silences. I had asked around and no one could remember seeing so many bare trees, not to mention bare bottoms. In my head a small warning voice had been growing louder and louder. “Lug,” the voice kept saying, “this is big.” Yes, the events of the morning were all coming back to me. There had been seven other boys in the hunting cave with me. We were all about the same age, but I was the shortest and skinniest by far. “You guys chilly at all?” I whispered to Chip and Rock, a tubby pair of twins.

“Shut...” Chip grunted, squinting his eyes like he was trying to remember something. “. . . up?” Rock volunteered. The first twin gave a satisfied nod, confirming that up was indeed the word he was looking for. I looked around the cave at the other boys. None of these chunkers were shivering like me. LUG, DAWN OF THE ICE AGE. Copyright © 2014 by David Zeltser. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Egmont USA, New York, NY.





Ages 9-12 Screech Owls: The Mystery of the Russian Ransom by Roy MacGregor Tundra |


ravis closed his eyes and took several deep, long breaths. He brushed his light brown hair back from his forehead. It was soaking wet from his run. He felt his heart slowing down. It was still racing but no longer pounded in his chest. The beginning, yes. But even before the inci­dent in the park, there was the trip to Russia. Even before Sarah was kidnapped, it was already the most incredible, bizarre trip the Screech Owls had ever undertaken. It began with Dmitri Yakushev’s uncle. Dmitri’s family came from Leningrad, Russia—which used to be called Saint Petersburg, and now is called Saint Petersburg again. Travis and the rest of the Owls soon learned that nothing is simple in Russia. Coach Muck Munro, who is a history nut, told the Screech Owls’ parents that some guy named Winston Churchill once said, “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” That made Travis’s mom and dad nod with approval, and there were murmurs of agreement all around the room where the Owls’ parents had gathered to talk about maybe going to Russia. Travis looked back at Nish, who was sitting just behind with his mom. Nish’s face was beet red and so twisted that it looked like someone with huge hands had just tried to wring his neck. Nish could never sit still. Travis thought they shouldn’t even try making him. Travis knew exactly what his best friend was

thinking: What the heck does that mean? Travis knew what a riddle was. And he knew, of course, what a mystery was. His grandmother was a great fan of Agatha Christie, who must have written more than a hundred mysteries, and Travis loved the Sherlock Holmes mysteries on television. But an enigma? SCREECH OWLS: THE MYSTERY OF THE RUSSIAN RANSOM. Copyright © 2014 by Roy MacGregor. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.




Ages 10-14 The Aesir Kids by James Grant Goldin & Charlotte Goldin


he shining streets were empty as the Aesir children ran through them, staying close to the walls to avoid being seen. It was night, and above them the stars and planets hung bright and meteors streaked silently overhead. They held their breaths as they heard the tramp of heavy feet and saw four armored trolls, with long axes on their shoulders, march past. Modi whispered, “A troll patrol!” “In Asgard!” Magni said. “Shhh,” Forseti warned. “Nothing,” they heard one troll grumble. “No Aesir noplace.” “Just rumor and say-so,” another agreed. “All Aesir gone,” the third said. The fourth grunted. “Gone forever and good riddance.” This was more than Magni could stand. He leaped out from hiding and shouted, “Think again, troll!” “No!” Forseti whisper-shouted, but it was too late. The burly trolls turned at the sound of the childish voice and took their axes from their shoulders. “Aesir?” one said. “Kid Aesir!” said another. Magni was already running as he said that. He hurled his hammer at the nearest troll, hitting him full in the chest and knocking the air out of him. The troll fell flat on his back, legs kicking in the air. Another troll was about to bring his axe down on the back of Magni’s head, but by then Modi had

also run from cover. He tackled the second troll, grabbed the axe and snapped it in two across his knee. This was impressive, but it gave the last two trolls the chance to yell, “Alarm! Alarm! Intruders! Aesir!” before being knocked out by Magni and Modi’s dwarf-forged hammers… THE AESIR KIDS. Copyright © 2014 by James Grant Goldin & Charlotte Goldin. Excerpt reprinted with permission of the author.




cleopatra’s legacy

Book I:

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

Book II:

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



science fiction

Ages 10-14 The Twin Powers by Robert Lipsyte Houghton Mifflin Harcourt |


or years I had thought Eddie was imaginary, a voice in my head. When he came to Earth, a real live brother, it was one of the best days of my life. I thought now we’d find Dad, save our planets, and find out if we were really half-alien, half-human. I was still waiting. The day it all started again, I was ghosting through my morning classes, feeling down. Even Mrs. Rupp, the dumb History teacher with her boring Timeline, couldn’t get my juices going even though she was on a topic that should have been interesting—nuclear energy. Usually, I interrupt her because I’m bad, a trouble-maker who likes to shake things up. I can’t stand bullies or know-it-alls, even if they’re teachers. But that day I kept my mouth shut. That’s how down I felt. My best friends, Alessa and Britzky, thought I was sick. When I did sit down at the rebel table in the cafeteria, Britzky poked me. “Check this dude.” The chatter and clatter of the cafeteria had faded. Teachers had stopped talking on their phones. The kids at the jock, fashion, drama, digital, social, thug, and toasted tables were silent. The only sound was the clop of boots as a short, pale kid in a long black raincoat that flapped against his black jeans marched slowly toward us. There was no expression on his face. I thought he was staring directly at me but I couldn’t be sure because of the old-fash-

ioned aviator shades he was wearing. I whispered to Alessa and Britzky, “I thought you’re not allowed to wear dark glasses in school.” “He’s new,” said Alessa, who worked in the school secretary’s office. “His records are sealed.” “That means he just got out of juvie,” whispered Britzky. Or he’s an alien. THE TWIN TOWERS. Copyright © 2014 by Robert Lipsyte. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, MA.



The Celestine Chronicles

“A swift and compelling epic that readers of high fantasy will love!” —Tony Abbott, author of The Secrets of Droon Available at


“An amazing world with characters so real, they could walk through the door, and you’d feel like you’d known them forever.” —Bookworm for Kids Available at





COVERS with Tad Carpenter


ince Wonder by R.J. Palacio took the world by storm in 2012, its cover has become one of the most recognizable in the world of children’s books. Tad Carpenter, the genius behind this iconic image, studied graphic design and illustration at the University of Kansas, where he currently teaches book jacket design. Follow Middle Shelf Under the Covers and discover the wonder of artist Tad Carpenter.



I have wanted to be an artist as long as I can remember. My father and mother are both creative and really encouraged me in that direction. I won an art contest in 3rd grade and can remember that day and that feeling. Decided to chase that feeling ever since. Designing a book jacket is always a challenge and hugely rewarding when all the stars align.


I start all my projects with pencil and paper. I start sketching small thumbnails just to create and explore basic concepts and composition. Once I find a concept I respond to, I draw a tighter, larger pencil sketch. Often times this pencil sketch might be what I share with the client (the publisher).



For Wonder, I hand painted textures and the figure that you see on the cover. I also hand drafted the title with pen and ink. All these elements were then scanned into the computer where I began to design the book jacket and adjust color. 33

R.J. Palacio’s writing style really influenced [the cover design]. I love the way she describes Auggie. It is so subtle, so kind and so simple. I wanted to show this character on the cover but never give away too much. That is why and how we landed on the face we landed on. It hints at how Auggie is unique but never gives too much away. I always felt that was very true to Palacio’s story.



[Designing a book cover] is always a collaboration. Not always with the author, but there is always a team behind a jacket design. Myself, the author and art director, Kate Gartner, all were involved in the design of the jacket. We went through several rounds of what this cover might look like, but we liked this idea from the very start. 35

I have written and illustrated Sad Santa, my I Say, You Say series, which has 4 books in the series currently. I have illustrated several other books, including most recently Ninja, Ninja Never Stop, Zoom! Zoom! Pantone color puzzle and Trick or Treat A Happy Haunter’s Halloween. I have designed a number of other book jackets out in the market outside of Wonder including, Sorry You’re Lost, The Fourteenth Goldfish and the new Ribblestrop series.




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







Kate the Great (Except When She’s Not) by Suzy Becker Random House Children’s Books Ages 8-12


Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis Running Press ages 10–14


lackfin is a town of too many questions and too few answers. When Skylar Rousseau wakes up as usual one morning only to be told by everyone else that she apparently died three months ago, all she wants is to know where she has been. Kat Ellis has woven a creepy tale that is impossible to forget about. Readers will be simultaneously disturbed and intrigued by the goings-on in Blackfin, eagerly anticipating a sequel well before this novel’s conclusion. An abandoned circus, time travel, and teenagers are a bizarre combination that works.

t’s rough being a fifth grader, what with all the drama that happens when you’re turning ten. Managing her cringeworthy mom, her ‘different’ dad, her amazing best friend Brooke, and her frenemy Nora is crazy enough, but add in some kooky teachers, school projects, and a position as co-leader of the flute section, and boy, does her life become a whirlwind! Luckily for us, author Suzy Becker brings us Kate’s journal full of drawings, word definitions, character explanations, and a couple ‘nose codes’ thrown in for good measure. Middle readers on the younger side will crack up at Kate’s antics.

Every Breath by Ellie Marney Tundra Ages 10-14


ames Mycroft is a genius. Intelligent, stealthy, and devilishly handsome, he is not only the object of Rachel Watts’ irritation and affection, but he is also an amateur detective. When Mycroft and Watts find a homeless man mysteriously murdered, they bravely enter into the world of forensics and homicide. An unstoppable team, they decide to do some minor sleuthing…until they find themselves knee-deep in suspicious activity. A riveting crime novel, Every Breath is a modern day, teenage version of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. A thrilling and engaging mystery. 39

Green Glass House by Kate Milford Clarion ages 8-12 he Green Glass House is filled with joy and is quiet at winter time. Until, that is, on the first night of an icy vacation, secretive guests fill the house for many odd reasons. The house keeper’s adopted son, Milo, is angry because instead of relaxing, he has to tend to the guests who stay in his home. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy (the cook’s daughter) must work together and investigate the guests (suspects) and uncover a mystery nobody can handle. Green Glass House is a wild mystery that just keeps you guessing and guessing.


Gabriel’s Clock by Hilton Pashley Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ages 10-14


onathan Smith thinks he’s a normal twelveyear-old, until his family is attacked by three hideous monsters with no faces. His father is captured and his mother is forced to hide Jonathan at Hobbes End, a village protected by the powers of an angel. Here his true identity comes to light. Jonathan is really half demon and half angel, plus a master demon is after his powers. This book is full of action and adventure. The characters that live within the village are fun and exciting, including stone gargoyles, werewolves, a talking cat, and Cay, Jonathan’s new best friend.



The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg Chronicle ages 10-13


andice Phee is a quirky girl with many different character traits. She has the best intentions in life, and a nonstop determination to make everyone around her full of joy and happiness. But she’s having a little trouble with a fish who has an identity crisis, a friend who “came from another dimension,” and a long-lasting family fight. This book is funny, sad, and joyous all at once. It had me at the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what Candice will do next. A unique story plot with a relatable character for young readers.

Smek for President by Adam Rex Disney-Hyperion ages 8-12


The Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown Scholastic, Inc. ages 8-12


n Return of the Padawan, the second book in the Jedi Academy series, Roan starts his second year at the Jedi Academy. He is especially excited to learn to fly. Like many kids, he has to deal with bullies, favorite and notso-favorite classes, school lunches, and problems with his friends. This is a fun book to read because it is formatted like a comic book with lots of pictures so that the readers can visualize the crazy Star Wars alien characters. I love this book and have already read it four times. May the force be with you, young Padawan!

mek for President is a fun, exciting novel with lots of humor and thrills. A page turner for all ages. Two years ago, Tip and a Boov alien known as J. Lo saved the world together. But now Tip can’t do anything outrageous because of an overprotective mom who doesn’t want anything to do with aliens. So Tip and J. Lo go to New Boovworld on one of Saturn’s moons. While at New Boovworld, they make many friends and enemies, including the High Boov (president of New Boovworld), Smek! This funny, clever, entertaining novel is one everyone should read.

Trapped in Lunch Lady Land by David M. Simon CBay Books ages 8-12


unch Lady Land: where dinosaurs are made of cans, kitchen appliances are giants, fields are made of french fries, and there’s a river of instant mashed potatoes. When Josh and his ‘enemy,’ Patty Anne, become trapped in a world of gross cafeteria food, getting home is a nearly impossible feat. A wacky combination of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Trapped in Lunch Lady Land makes an adventure out of the old cliché deeming school cafeteria food disgusting. This cheese-and-ice cream-covered story is a true testament to author David M. Simon’s remarkable creativity.


nonfiction Ages 10-14

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming Random House Children’s Books


ere is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia’s last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia’s poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards. 42


graphic novel

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti Candlewick Press

Ages 7-10


est-selling author Neil Gaiman and fine artist Lorenzo Mattotti join forces to create Hansel & Gretel, a stunning book that’s at once as familiar as a dream and as evocative as a nightmare. Mattotti’s sweeping ink illustrations

capture the terror and longing found in the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Neil Gaiman crafts an original text filled with his signature wit and pathos that is sure to become a favorite of readers everywhere, young and old.



Ages 9-12


his exciting new book brings to life—quite literally—ten famous hauntings from the annals of history. Using interactive augmented reality to enhance the images on the pages, readers are able to see and interact with 3-D ghosts, which appear to come alive and can be manipulated by the viewer. Luscious illustrations of famous historical hauntings introduce readers to some of the most notorious and chilling ghosts throughout the ages. The Headless Horseman, the Flying Dutchman, Bloody Mary, the Amherst Poltergeist, and the Princes in the Tower are some of the eerie apparitions that inhabit this book in a totally new way as readers interact with the illustrations on the pages. 44


HORRIBLE HAUNTINGS by Shirin Yin Bridges Illustrated by William Maughan Goosebottom Books

BOOK The Aesir Kids by James Grant Goldin and Charlotte Goldin


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.

Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor by Julie Anne Grasso


“Anyone who likes Percy Jackson [or] Thor/ Avengers will like this book. I recommend it highly!” —Reader review

hen his cousin Kat disappears from Enderby Manor, Frankie Dupont jumps on the scene. Bumbling Inspector Cluesome thinks Kat simply wandered off. Frankie isn’t buying it. He follows the evidence to a conniving concierge, a six-fingered chef, a talking parrot, and a shifty dwarf. Quite frankly, none of them are making any sense until Frankie discovers Kat’s time is running out. Available in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon.

TRAILER LINK Available at Amazon.

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Dallas

The Mystery of the Talented Thief: Detective Band 2 by Roberta Baxter


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? Available at Sleeping Bear Press and Amazon. Available at Amazon.


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


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. Available at Amazon, Audible, and the iTunes Store.


Five Angels by Carolann C. McGrath


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., Available at Amazon and Follett Library Resource.

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


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. Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Quackers Wants to Fly by Susan Wolff


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


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! Available at Amazon and Lulu.


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 Stitch Head by Guy Bass Capstone Press

Ages 8-12

Meet Stitch Head In the frightening, maze-like dungeon laboratory deep within Castle Grotteskew, mad scientist Professor Erasmus brings his bizarre experiments to life. His first creation, Stitch Head, has long been forgotten. But when a traveling circus ringmaster promises to make him a star, Stitch Head is torn between his almost-life in the castle and the promise of fame outside its walls. Before he can decide what to do, Castle Grotteskew and its inhabitants (living and almost-living) are in danger: the professor’s latest monstrous creation has smashed its way to freedom, and Stitch Head may be the only one who can stop it. Middle Shelf: Hi Stitch Head, and welcome to Middle Shelf! So, what exactly are you? Stitch Head: No visitors! Sorry, force of habit … my master doesn’t like to be interrupted during his experiments. Or ever. I am the first creation of Mad Professor Erasmus, the maddest mad professor of all. Professor Erasmus made me when he was just a boy. He gathered together leftovers 48


from his father’s experiments – an arm here, a leg there. He brought me to almost-life and called me Stitch Head. Since then, the professor has brought hundreds of monstrous creations to almost-life. MS: What is it like living at Castle Grotteskew? Stitch Head: I like it best when it’s really quiet and nothing’s happening…but it’s

almost never like that. The Professor is always making new monsters, so I have to keep making potions to cure them of their monstrousness. Then there’s the angry mobs…the freak shows…the vengeful ghosts…I don’t get to hide away in the shadows half as much as I’d like. MS: You’ve had many adventures. Which as been the scariest? Stitch Head: Probably the time I found out I had been made with the heart of a villainously criminal villain by the name of Mawley Crackbone. He was a ghost, but he still nearly destroyed Castle Grotteskew. It’s surprising how much trouble someone can cause even when they’re dead. MS: Do you consider yourself brave? Stitch Head: No, I wouldn’t say I was— The Creature: I’LL answer THIS question! HELLO everyone out there! Or in there, or out here, or WHEREVER you are…I’m the CREATURE (actual name to be confirmed) and I’m Stitch Head’s BESTEST friend EVER. I knew we were going to be friends from the moment we MET. The Professor had JUST brought me to almost-life and I was doing this whole INSANE monstrous RAMPAGE thing. Then Stitch Head came

along and gave me a special POTION and a quick GLUG GLUG BUURRP later, I was cured! He saved me! Now I won’t let Stitch Head out of my SIGHT! Isn’t that right? Stitch Head: …Yes, that’s true. I never get a moment’s— The Creature: Yep! BESTEST friends! And I reckon Stitch Head is just about the bravest creation in FOREVER! Even though he’s TEENY WEENY small, like three kittens glued together. Stitch Head: I’m not that small… MS: Will there be a fifth Stitch Head book? Stitch Head: I’ve heard rumours of a fifth and a sixth book, coming out soon. I don’t know why anyone would want to write about me. They should write about the Amazing Experiments of Mad Professor Erasmus, or— The Creature: Or about ME! They could call it ‘The Creature Features’ and it could be all about me and the things I SAY and DO and all my ADVENTURES. That would be GREAT! Now all we need to do is have some adventures… come ON, Stitch Head! Let’s adventure like there’s no tomorrow! Follow ME! Stitch Head: Uh-oh … um, I’d better go after it. Thanks for the interview! 49

TEAK recommends

Ages 10-14 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.




by C.J. Farley Akashic Books [Review] Gameworld is a fantastic fantasy novel that buzzes with excitement, adventure, and history. Dylan, like most of the kids at his school, is addicted to a game called Xmacia. But unlike other players, Dylan is a Game Changer. Only a few dozen Game Changers exist, all claiming to be the best. So a tournament is held by the creator’s daughter in order to find the best two Game Changers in the world. This book is more than amazing. It is exquisite! Reading Gameworld took me to another world completely. I felt like I was enjoying the adventure right along with Dylan. I found it very hard to set down this excellent novel and do something else without thinking about it. I felt like I HAD to read this book. I felt as though I MUST know the ending. I highly recommend his book to fans of fantasy. Because you will love it!!

LARA’S reads

Ages 9-12 Where I Belong

by Mary Downing Hahn Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [Review] Brendan is a foster child with an “I don’t care about school” attitude. He’s smart and a very talented artist. But even with all of those traits, his foster mother is critical and his teachers hate him. In addition, he is a target for bullies. He feels abandoned and alone, so he creates a retreat in the woods where he can finally be himself. In his safe haven, the spirit of the woods, the green man, reaches out to him and protects him. This book is a sad story about a boy who doesn’t feel like he has a place in the real world. It has a feeling of loss and despair, but gives you hope towards the end. As you gradually discover how Brendan gets better, you realize just how bad his life is. You will definitely cry. If you like sad, realistic fiction, this book is for you.

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:


publisher’s corner

How Piñata Books Got Started

Arte Público Press’ imprint, Piñata Books, was started in 1994 for a couple of reasons. APP staff attending teacher and librarian conferences were constantly being asked for kids’ books. School districts across the country had large numbers of Latino kids, but it was difficult to find books that reflected their lives. Around the same time, APP received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to “do something big.” With their support, we were able to invest in launching an imprint for kids that authentically portrays themes, characters, and customs unique to U.S. Hispanic culture. 52


Pinata Books “

Piñata books deal with issues that U.S. Hispanic kids can relate to.

How Piñata Books Got Its Name

relate to, like translating for their parents, having two last names, We considered lots of names or learning how to make tortillas for the imprint and, of course, and tamales. But even though wanted something that was cul- the books deal specifically turally relevant. In the end, we with Hispanic themes, they are liked the image of a piñata with universal in that all kids can relate to being taught how to do books as treats. something by a grandparent or working through problems with What Makes Piñata friends. Books Special While most of our picture books are produced in a bilingual for- Awards & Recognitions mat, they are not translations Books published under the Piñaof fairy tales or stories from ta Books imprint have received Spain or other Spanish-speak- awards such as LAUSD’s Westing countries. Books published chester Fiction Award, and othas part of the Piñata Books ers have been named to recomimprint are written from within mended reading lists like the the culture by U.S. Hispanic American Library Association’s authors. They deal with issues annual list of recommended that U.S. Hispanic kids can reading for reluctant young adult

readers, Quick Picks for Young Adults; The New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age; and the Texas Library Association’s Tejas Star Reading List. Most recently, for example, The Patchwork Garden / Pedacitos de huerto won a Skipping Stones Honor Award and was named an Honor Book of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. In addition, it was one of only 25 children’s books included in Reading Is Fundamental’s 2013-2014 STEAM Multicultural Book Collection.

books to check out

New and Upcoming Middle Grade Releases

In the Spring 2014 season, APP published two fantastic bilingual “flip” books for intermediate readers: The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases / La chancleta perdida y otros casos secretos, by Alidis Vicente, features Flaca, a skinny second grader who prefers to be called Detective Flaca, who shares three of her top-secret cases with civilians. The Mystery of the Mischievous Marker / El misterio del malvado marcador, the third novel in René Saldaña’s Mickey Rangel Mystery series, features Mickey Rangel, a web-certified detective who is faced with another challenging case!

Can You See Me Now? by Estela Bernal ages 10–14


n Amanda’s thirteenth birthday, her father is killed by a drunk driver while on the way to pick up her birthday present. Her mom retreats into extra shifts at work, leaving Mandy to feel as if she has lost both parents. To make matters worse, she’s the butt of cruel pranks at school. But things take a turn for the better when she befriends Paloma, who introduces her to yoga and meditation, and Rogelio, a fat boy who is bullied even more than she is by their classmates.

The Mystery of the Mischievous Marker by René Saldaña Jr. Carolina Villarroel (translator) ages 8-12


t’s Monday morning, and kid detective extraordinaire Mickey Rangel is on the hot seat. When the school principal mentions the recent rash of graffiti on school grounds, Mickey is initially horrified that she might think he’s involved. But he quickly realizes why she has called him in: she needs his help! Mrs. A has heard that Mickey is a detective and she wants him to unmask the Magic Marker Mischief Maker.



of the book blogs The Extraordinary Book of Doors by Anne E.G. Nydam CreateSpace Publishing Review by


Ages 8-12


hen Connolly finds a copy of Serlio’s Extraordinary Book of Doors seemingly abandoned beneath a park bench in Cleveland. Serlio was a tremendously influential Renaissance architect, and the book is an illustrated catalogue of doors.  But the book is magical.  The embossed key on the cover detaches, allowing Chen to travel through the doors to the buildings that wait inside them. At the same time, a quirky girl named Polly in Massachusetts comes upon a second copy of the book, one that belonged to Benjamin Franklin.  Her book and key work the same way,

but on the backs of each door, Franklin has left cryptic clues—and if they can be solved, they’ll provide the information needed to claim a bequest Franklin established during his lifetime to be used for humanitarian and educational purposes. It is an absolutely lovely premise, made even more so by the black and white illustrations of doors drawn by the author (some based on Serlio’s doors, some imaginary) included throughout! And it’s an exciting adventure, too, given depth by the friendship, at first uncertain, that grows between Chen and Polly. It’s a good one for kids who like heist stories with magical twists. 


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





Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne Illustrated by Glenn Thomas Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Review by



nce in awhile I see a cover so magnificent, so extraordinary, that the rest of the world goes blank and all I can think is “I NEED THIS BOOK.” That is precisely what happened in the case of Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times. I mean, that cover...even the title is amazing. A steampunk adventure for middle grade readers? Sign me up! Set in old-fashioned London, a strange man named Lorcan is introduced to Jack Foster as his mother’s new “spiritualist”/magician. But what he really wants is to kidnap Jack and bring him into his world, Londonium, so he can be the son to the

Ages 8-12 Lady. The Lady is an ageless queen who is a bit nuts, who wants a boy with no mechanical parts. This story was really enjoyable to read, a mix between The Chronicles of Narnia and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. I loved the steampunk elements and the creepy Lady who doesn’t age. The imagery was splendid; I could picture the dark cogs that made up Londonium, and the people who all looked the same except for one mechanical limb or eye. Whether you’re a middle grade reader who loves adventure books or an adult who enjoys a well written story, this book is a must read.




Zombies! Evacuate the School! by Sara Holbrook Illustrated by Karen Sandstrom Boyds Mills Press

Ages 9-11



MISSING LINKS IN THE FOOD CHAIN Some creatures live to give me spider creeps, chatter teeth and shoulder shakes, like warty toads and slippy snakes. Trashy maggots, sidewalk worms, hairy bees and bathroom germs. Slimy slugs and flappy bats, sharks with fins and stick-on-gnats. All fit in nature’s crawly puzzle no use asking “Why.”     But! Any bug in my hair or touching my teeth, is probably going to die.

EVACUATE THE SCHOOL Zombies in the bathroom! There! I eyeballed them myself. Sh! Giant blind naked desert mole rats are camped behind that shelf. Hide! Lizard Men and Cat People are prowling down the hall. I think the principal’s gone werewolf. Look! His eyes are red and small. Ikes! Piranha in the fish tank. Flying monkeys swinging from the lights. The librarian’s grown four inch fangs. Duck and cover! I’m pretty sure she bites. Freeze! Aliens are snatching teachers. From Zombies! Evacuate the School! by The custodian’s a ghoul. Sara Holbrook, illustrated by Karen Sandstrom. © 2010 by Sara Holbrook This place is freaking out. and Karen Sandstrom. Published by Quick! Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press. Reprinted by permission. Evacuate the school. 57


Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are absolutely right. —Henry Ford, from 365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio






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ANNIVERSARY ISSUE ry Zombie Poet ween Picks llo Ha d te Haun Reads l Back-2-Schoo


september/october 2014

contributors BACIGALUPI, PAOLO Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Wired, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His books have received the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, Michael L. Printz, and many international awards. BALENA, RILEY Riley is a 10-year-old boy who loves going to the skate park, riding his bike, skateboarding, swimming, climbing rocks, archery, Legos and video games. He can build anything and enjoys figuring out how things work. His review of Return of the Padawan is his first publication. BARNHILL, KELLY Barnhill writes novels for children, short stories for adults, and poetry that she whispers in the dark when no one is listening. Her first novel, The Mostly True Story of Jack, received four-starred reviews, and her second, Iron Hearted Violet, received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. BASS, GUY Bass is an award-winning children’s book author and semi-professional geek. His books include  Stitch Head, The Legend of Frog, Dinkin Dings,  Atomic! and Monster Madness/Monster Mayhem. He won a Blue Peter Book Award and has twice won the Portsmouth Book award. BECKER, SUZY Author, artist, educator, and entrepreneur, Becker began her career as an award-winning advertising copywriter, and then founded the Widget Factory, a greeting card company. Her books, greeting cards and other works have earned her numerous design and writing awards. BRIDGES, SHIRIN YIM Bridges has successfully transitioned from author,

cool reads for cool kids.

to self-publisher, to award-winning publisher. She is the author of Ruby’s Wish, a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book and winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award. Shirin is also the head goose of Goosebottom Books. BROWN, JEFFREY Brown’s art has been shown at galleries in New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Paris. His work has also appeared in the Best American Comics series and received the Ignatz Award in 2003 for ‘Outstanding Minicomic.’ BROWN, JENNIFER Brown is the author of many acclaimed young adult novels. Her debut novel, Hate List, received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA “Perfect Ten,” and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. CARPENTER, TAD Carpenter is a designer, illustrator, author and teacher in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has written/illustrated a number of children’s books, including the best-seller Wonder. He also teaches graphic design at the University of Kansas. CRONEN, DIAMOND Cronen is a 27-year-old with a political science and philosophy degree. She loves reading and is currently applying for her Master’s in Library Science (to transform her love of reading into a career). She also paints and has a weakness for pizza and cheese. ELLIS, KAT Kat Ellis grew up immersed in ancient myths about dragons and giants, and spending most of her time getting into trouble while exploring the local cemetery. Blackfin Sky is her debut novel. Ellis lives in Denbighshire, North Wales.

september/october 2014

contributors ERSKINE, KATHRYN Erskine is the author of many distinguished novels for young readers, including Mockingbird, winner of the National Book Award; The Absolute Value of Mike, an Amazon Best Book and ALA Notable Book; and Quaking, an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. FARLEY, C.J. Farley’s biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman was a national best-seller. A former editor of the Harvard Lampoon and a former music critic for Time, Farley is a blogger, columnist, and senior editor at the Wall Street Journal. Game World is Farley’s first novel for young readers. FLEMING, CANDACE Fleming’s books include The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction; and Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a New York Times Notable Children’s Book of the Year. GAIMAN, NEIL Gaiman was awarded the Newbery and Carnegie Medals for The Graveyard Book. His other books for younger readers include Coraline, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and Fortunately, the Milk. Born in England, he has won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. GOLDIN, JAMES GRANT In a rather varied career, Goldin has written over 100 hours of television, including for such outlets as the History Channel. In addition to his novel The Legendary Adventures of the Pirate Queens, he is the co-author (with his young daughter Charlotte) of The Aesir Kids. HAGEN, GEORGE Hagen is the author of two novels for adults, The

Laments, a Washington Post bestseller and recipient of the William Saroyan International Prize for writing, and Tom Bedlam. The father of three children, Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle is his first book for kids. HAHN, MARY DOWNING Hahn is the author of more than 20 books for young readers, including Stepping on the Cracks, which won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Anna on the Farm and Anna All Year Round, based on her mother’s memoirs about growing up in Maryland pre-World War I. HOLBROOK, SARA Poet Sara Holbrook puts words into action, writing and performing poetry for kids of all ages. The author of poetry books for children and adults as well as professional books for teachers, she delights in sharing her love of words in classrooms worldwide. KNIGHT, WENDY Knight is the bestselling author of the young adult series Fate on Fire and Riders of Paradesos. She enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, hiking, and camping. She is working toward her goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S. 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. JONSBERG, BARRY Barry Jonsberg is a multiple award–winning writer of young adult and middle-grade novels, including A Croc Called Capone, The Dog that Dumped on My Doona, and Being Here. He lives and teaches in Darwin, Australia.

cool reads for cool kids.

september/october 2014

contributors LIPSYTE, ROBERT Lipsyte is the author of over a dozen acclaimed novels for young adults and is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring his lifetime contribution in that genre. He has also written numerous works of fiction and nonfiction for adults. LOSURE, MARY Before writing for children, Losure was a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio and co-founded the independent production company Round Earth Media. Her first book, The Fairy Ring, Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World was a Booklist Editors’ Choice for Best Youth Non-fiction. MACGREGOR, ROY MacGregor is the author of several classics in the literature of hockey, including Home Game (written with Ken Dryden), The Home Team, and The Last Season. Roy MacGregor is now a senior columnist for the National Post. He and his wife, Ellen, live in Kanata, Ontario. MALONE, JEN Malone is a YA and middle grade author and editor as well as a teacher at the Film program at Boston University, drawing on her experiences as former New England Head of Publicity and Promotions for 20th Century Fox and Miramax Films. At Your Service is her debut novel. MARNEY, ELLIE Marney writes, teaches, talks about kid’s literature at libraries and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens near Castlemaine in north-central Victoria. Every Breath is her first novel for younger readers. MATTOTTI, LORENZO Mattotti is an Italian illustrator and comics and

cool reads for cool kids.

graphic artist. His works have been featured in such magazines as The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Le Monde, and Süddeutsche Zeitung. He won an Eisner Award in 2003 for his graphic novel Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. MCCREELY, HAVELOCK Havelock McCreely inspired H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds and was the first person on the moon, no matter what anyone says. But in spite of his interplanetary adventures, he has never owned a zombie hamster or battled an orc. MILFORD, KATE Milford the author of The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands, has written for stage and screen, and is a regular travel columnist for the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. NYDAM, ANNE E.G. Nydam is a talented block artist, illustrator and author. She majored in linguistics at Yale University, and upon graduation, taught middle school art for ten years. Her books include The Extraordinary Book of Doors and The Otherworld series. PALACIO, R. J. For more than twenty years, Palacio was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made her realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. PASHLEY, HILTON When Pashley is not working or writing, he flies large kites and drinks enormous amounts of tea. He lives in Norfolk, England. Gabriel’s Clock is his first published novel.

september/october 2014

contributors REX, ADAM Rex is the New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. His other books include Pssst!, Moonday, The True Meaning of Smekday, Fat Vampire, and Cold Cereal. He also illustrated Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman.

TRISTAN, MARINA Tristan is the Assistant Director at Arte Público Press in Houston, Texas, the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors. She attended the University of Houston.

SANDSTROM, KAREN Karen Sandstrom is a lifelong artist and writer. In addition to her work as an illustrator, she’s an award-winning journalist, a book critic, and a short-story writer. For many years, she worked in a variety of roles at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WHITEHOUSE, HOWARD Whitehouse is a writer and professional modelmaker. His one-man company is called Brushes with Danger. He also designs games and is a partner in Pulp Action Library. Howard has written such middle grade classics as Bogbrush the Barbarian and the Mad Misadventures series.

SIMON, DAVID M. David M. Simon first wondered about lunch ladies after volunteering in his children’s school cafeteria. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his family and very few creamed corn emergencies. Trapped in Lunch Lady Land is his debut novel. STRUTHERS, ALFRED M. Struthers loves crafting books that inspire, entertain and make a difference in the lives of young readers. In addition to writing, Mr. Struthers is a singer/songwriter, furniture maker and avid collector of fossils from the stream beds around Cooperstown, New York.

ZELTSER, DAVE Zeltser’s upcoming books include Lug—Book 2 (Egmont, 2015) and Ninja Baby (Chronicle Books, 2015). He also writes screenplays and performs improv comedy. After graduating from Harvard, he worked with wild animals, including owls, rhinos, sharks and ad executives. 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.

TAYLOR, CHARLOTTE Archaeologist by day, President of the Friends of a small New England library by night, Charlotte is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction. Her blog, Charlotte’s Library, is popular in the world of kidlit. TREVAYNE, EMMA Trevayne is an avid music collector, a lover of computer code languages, and a photographer. She has written two young adult novels, Coda and Chorus, and a middle grade novel, Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times.

cool reads for cool kids.

Middle Shelf September/October 2014  

Find your next favorite middle-grade book in Middle Shelf, aimed at readers 8 to 14. In this issue: R.J. Palacio, Catherine Jinks, Tad Carpe...

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