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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

FEATURING

J. SCOTT SAVAGE GREG FUNARO MATT EASTERBROOK Back-2-School Reviews Debut Author Toni Gallagher Perfect Picks for Halloween


staff

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

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Illustration: from The Red Sun (Legends of Orkney, Book 1) by Alane Adams

COOL READS FOR KIDS


Making It Home is 2015 Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Book Festival

It isn’t only about history. It isn’t only about traveling back in time. It’s historical fiction woven into a time travel mystery for middle-grade readers and has been called “…something rare in the world of not just ‘timeslip’ sagas, but middle school fiction in general.” And it starts with the September 2015 release of Making It Home, Book One in the TIME TO TIME SERIES. “An educational, highly enjoyable read that kicks off a promising new series.” —Kirkus Reviews “The result is a top recommendation for any who want to bring history alive to young readers.” —Midwest Book Review www.timetotimekids.com

Kidding Around NYC: For Kids Who Want the Inside Track on the City is 2015 Honorable Mention at the 2015 New York Book Festival

“A fun guide helps kids discover what makes New York City special. Be sure to take this book along for tips on what to see and do at each location. The guide ventures beyond the most famous tourist stops to lesser-known attractions, such as the Tenement Museum and Merchant’s House. Roche keeps the text lively and fills the pages with intriguing trivia, quizzes, maps, color photographs, and sketches. The formatting, which resembles a scrapbook more than a guidebook, is engaging. A lighthearted travel companion for families planning to take a bite out of the Big Apple.” —Kirkus Reviews

WWW.SUZANNEWALDOWSKIROCHE.COM


september/october 2015 contents

DEPARTMENTS 4

a word from the editor

14

themed books: mythology & magic

18

common core pick

20

cool reads for cool kids

28

jem & lara’s reviews

38

on our shelf

6 j. scott savage interview with the author of the Mysteries of Cove series

42

recommended reading

10 greg funaro interview with the author of Alistair Grim’s Odditorium

49

non-fiction

50

graphic novel

54

publisher’s corner

56

best of the book blogs

58

poetry

60

last words

62

contributors

12 toni gallagher interview with the author of Twist My Charm 30

under the covers with matt easterbrook, illustrator of Camp Omigosh

44

character spotlight an interview with the Sleepover Girls

Images from Twist My Charm by Toni Gallagher and The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater

48 novelty

On the cover: Illustration by Matt Easterbrook from Camp Omigosh by Wade Bradford


a word from the

editor

F

or most of you, the new school year has already begun. I always loved a new school year because it meant a new pair of shoes, new clothes, more time with my friends, and lots of new adventures. It also meant homework. Today, kids’ lives are filled not only with school work, but with many other activities too—lessons in music, dance, or art; sports practices and games; scouting or church groups; not to mention chores and other family responsibilities. Life can get a little hectic sometimes. Wouldn’t it be nice to escape—just for an hour or two? I suppose that is what books are for. When I read a good book, it’s like my world vanishes, and for a short time I am somewhere else, living a different life. This sort of escape is nothing short of magical. Speaking of magic, this issue of Middle Shelf spotlights plenty of books filled with magical realms and mythical beasts (perfect for Halloween, which is just around the corner). You will also find a special collection of Back-2School book reviews to help you find just the right stories to escape into. And for even more magic, be sure to check out our interviews with special guest authors Greg Funaro (Alistair Grim’s Odditorium) and J. Scott Savage (Mysteries of Cove). If magic isn’t your thing, there are plenty of non-magical books too, like Dear Opl by Shelly Sackier, reviewed in Lara’s Reads, and A Big Dose of Lucky by Marthe Jocelyn, found in our excerpt section. With so many great books to read, who has time for homework? I mean— T.V.? Laurisa White Reyes Editor in Chief, Middle Shelf Magazine CLICK HERE to subscribe to Middle Shelf magazine for FREE. Find Middle Shelf on Facebook: www.facebook.com/middleshelfmagazine

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


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feature

author interview

J. Scott Savage T

renton Colman is a creative thirteenyear-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steampowered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on—and quite possibly their very lives. 6

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage www.jscottsavage.com Shadow Mountain

Ages 10-14


Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf magazine, Mr. Savage. What makes Cove different from our world? J. Scott Savage: Cove is a city built inside of a mountain. Because technology is blamed for destroying the outside world, all creativity is against the law. Painting a picture, writing a story, or modifying any approved machinery is punishable by being locked up or sent into a kind of brainwashing called retraining. This is especially hard on the main characters, Trenton and Kallista, because they both love to build and fix things.    MS: Tell us about Trenton and Kallista. Were they inspired by anyone you know? Savage: Trenton is the kind of kid who wants to do the right thing, but his creativity ends up getting him into trouble more often than not. He’s actually based on my nephew who once got in trouble for hording plastic water bottles in his desk at school. He told his teacher he was saving them to build a raft. The funny thing is he did build a raft completely out of plastic bottles and floated down a local river on it. Kallista is the daughter of the infamous inventor, Leo Babbage. She’s been raised to question everything most of the city takes for granted. In many middle grade books, the boy is reckless and the girl is cautious. In this story, Kallista is the rebel. She’s the one who says, “I’m breaking into the City Offices. You can come or stay behind.” She’s inspired by a lot of girls I know who are smart, sassy, and adventurous.   

MS: If Trenton lived in our world today, what inventions do you think he’d create? Savage: Every time I see a boy or girl challenge existing ideas to make something better with their own creativity, it makes me think of Trenton. He knows change is not allowed, but he can’t stop the fact that his mind is constantly seeing new ways to improve things. I’d love to put Trenton in a room with a bunch of electronics and maybe a 3-D printer, because I just know he’d come out of the room with some kind of amazing robot, or rocket, or medical discovery that would improve life for everyone. MS: If you could invent one machine to change the world for the better, what would it be? Savage: It seems to me that most of the problems in our world come from people not understanding other people. If I could 7


make one machine it would be something that would let people completely understand where other people are coming from. You’d be able to see things from the other person’s point of view, and go, “Oh, yeah. I totally get that now.” And of course, it would have to be free so everyone could take one with them! Kind of a personal emotional communicator. MS: How does Mysteries of Cove differ from your other series, Case File 13 & Farworld? Savage: My favorite thing about Mysteries of Cove is the different layers. On one level, it’s an adventure about two kids building this huge steampunk dragon. On another level, it’s a mystery. What are the city’s leaders hiding? What really happened to Kallista’s father? There’s the puzzle element of where the next piece is hidden, but then you’ve also got all the human interaction. Trenton’s mother, who hates all machinery and will do whatever she can to keep her son away from it, and Simone, who is a really nice person but believes that creativity is bad, the chancellor who has his own agenda, and Trenton’s artistic friend. It’s fun how it all weaves together. And then there’s the big twist at the end. I can’t give it away, but let’s just say it literally changes the genre of the book. MS: What do you like best/least about being an author? Savage: I absolutely love hearing back from readers about how my books affected them. Whether it’s a boy who

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

learned to love reading, or a girl who realized being different was actually a good thing, or a kid in a hospital room who wasn’t quite as scared because he had my book with him. Those kinds of stories make me so grateful for having the chance to change lives. I think the hardest part of being an author is wanting everything to move faster. This exciting story idea pops into your head and you want to share it with people now, not a year or two down the road. MS: Did you want to write books when you were a kid? Savage: I loved reading probably more than anything. There were times when I actually used to skip school and go to the library because I was so excited to read a new book. I also loved to make up stories, but it never occurred to me that I could become a published author. That seemed as impossible as becoming an astronaut or a football star. That’s one thing I stress to kids. Anyone can be an author. There are no age restrictions, no special degree, no secret password. It’s all about loving stories and wanting to share them. MS: Can we get a sneak peek into Mysteries of Cove, book 2? Savage: I’m in the process of finishing book 2 right now, and I’m having such a great time. My editor refers to it as cowboys on mechanical dragons. I call it a steampunk middle grade Mad Max. There are way more crazy inventions, another big mystery, and a huge twist that completely changes everything.


I t ' st hr i l l i ng. I t ' smi ndboggl i ng! I t ' st hez a ny , mus t r e a dmi ddl e s c hool s c i ďŹ / f a nt a s ys t or yoft hey e a r ! Cr e a t e Wi t hJ oyBl ogBookRe v i e w


feature

author interview

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro www.gregoryfunaro.com

Gregory Funaro G

rubb has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep. All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn where he works. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim’s trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium.

Middle Shelf: What is the Odditorium? Gregory Funaro: The Odditorium is many things to many people. On the surface, it is a flying house of mechanical wonders, full of secrets and magical objects. Beyond that, it is also a home for things that don’t belong in the “normal” world, a place where the lost and the outcast find acceptance, and ultimately, their inner magic. MS: Grubb is a chimney sweep in 19th century London. Did you conduct research for the book? 10

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Disney Press

Ages 8-12


Funaro: Oh yes, I did A LOT of research—mainly into mid-19th century child labor practices, the geography and development of industrialized England, as well as what was going on in London at the time. Much of that research didn’t make it into the book, but it really helped ground me in Grubb’s world. I also read (and re-read) a lot of Charles Dickens— which was really a treat, as he is one of my all time faves. MS: Where did your ideas for the characters and magical items come from? Funaro: I always knew I wanted the Odditorium’s power sources to be things that were magical, so I sort of worked backwards from function to form and figured out what they were once I knew what I wanted them to do. As for characters, many of them were inspired by Dickensian characters. Grubb, for example, is a nod to Pip from Great Expectations and Oliver from Oliver Twist. MS: What inspired you to become a writer? Funaro: I am not sure, to be honest. I’ve always been a voracious reader, so at some point something must have shifted internally, and I thought, “Hey, I should give this a shot.” Everybody has at least one book in them, I think. They just need the courage and discipline to write it. I’m not always courageous, but I am very disciplined. MS: If you could enchant an object from your own home, what would it be?

Funaro: My refrigerator! Imagine having a magic refrigerator that gives you any kind of food you want whenever you want it? I’d never leave the house! MS: Tell us about your next book, Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum? Funaro: It’s the second book in the series, and revolves around Grim’s quest to find the legendary sword Excalibur, the only weapon capable of defeating the villain, Prince Nightshade. The Odditorium travels underwater to the mythical realm of Avalon, and along the way, Grubb and his friends battle a bunch of new enemies. However, the heart of the story lies in the budding relationship between Grubb and Alistair Grim, as well as a deeper exploration into the characters’ backgrounds. 11


feature

debut author interview

Toni Gallagher W

hen a package arrives in the mail for Cleo Nelson, she can’t wait to open it. The birthday present is seven months late, but it’s from Uncle Arnie and that can only mean one thing: magic! Inside is a voodoo doll complete with instructions for making happy, wonderful things happen.

Middle Shelf: Tell us about Twist My Charm: The Popularity Spell. Toni Gallagher: This is my debut novel, and that’s a phrase I have wanted to say ever since I was old enough to write! For me, it’s been amazingly exciting, not only to write and finish a book, but to then find an agent and a publisher…and now, to see it hitting the shelves. It’s a dream come true. As for the story, it’s about an awkward but enthusiastic 11-year-old named Cleo who has recently moved from Ohio to Los Angeles. When she receives a “positive happy voodoo doll” from her wacky uncle, she and her best friend Samantha try it 12

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Twist My Charm: The Popularity Spell by Toni Gallagher www.tonigallagherink.com Random House Children’s Books

Ages 8-12


out. First it’s fun, but then the hexes get more serious. Finally Cleo has to figure out a way to stop the mischief, which may cause her to lose her best (and only!) friend. MS: How did you get the idea for the book? Gallagher: I don’t have kids, but I have known at least one! One time, a friend’s daughter was at my place, playing with…well, a voodoo doll. It’s just a joke one, with things written on it like ‘weak chin’ and ‘tennis elbow.’ This girl said she would like to use it on some kids at school. Being a wise adult I said, “Well, you shouldn’t do that…” but that’s when I thought, there could be a story here. From that point on, I took it really seriously. I started learning about the business and creative sides of writing kids’ books, and of course I wrote. A lot! MS: What do you do when you’re not writing? Gallagher: My “day job” for the last 23 years has been in reality television, starting with MTV’s The Real World, season two. I’ve also worked on shows like Dr. 90210, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood, and Bug Juice, a docu-series for the Disney Channel that followed real kids through their summer camp experience. That was one of my favorites. Right now I’m the Executive Producer of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. When I have time off between seasons of television shows, I always try to take a big trip. I’ve been to Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal, Peru and lots of other

exciting places. I also go to spin classes and yoga, and I do “urban hikes” in the hills and stairs of my neighborhood. I invite friends and call it “Toni’s Torture Tours.” MS: If you could have one wish come true, what would it be? Gallagher: Of course the best answer sounds cheesy—more happiness and less violence in the world. For me personally, my wish would be similar: for health and happiness for me, my family and friends. And a pony. (Just kidding!) MS: What is the most magical thing that has happened to you? Gallagher: More and more, I’ve been taking note of the things that feel magical in everyday life. Since I moved to a new neighborhood in Los Angeles seven years ago, I’ve gotten healthier, met a great guy (while I was traveling in Cambodia of all places!), and written two books. If only I could start eating better, I’d really believe magic exists. 13


Mythology and Magic

themed books:

The Red Sun

The Troll Who Cried Wolf

(Legends of Orkney, Book 1)

(Life of Zarf, Book 2)

by Alane Adams

by Rob Harrell

SparkPress www.alaneadams.com

Penguin Young Readers Group www.robharrell.com

Ages 10-14

S

am Baron’s life turns upside down when a strange dwarf named Rego arrives and claims Sam is from a magical realm called Orkney. When his friends are taken prisoner, Sam embarks on a journey to Orkney through a stonefire to rescue them. But when he arrives, he discovers an ancient curse has turned the sun a poisonous red and threatens to destroy the land. With only a young witch girl to guide him, Sam must choose between saving his friends or stopping the red sun from consuming the land. To save his friends and Orkney, Sam will have to overcome the simmering anger inside of him; channel his growing magical powers; and find a way to forgive the father who left him behind.

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Ages 8-12

F

ractured fairy tales meet modern day middle school in book two of this funny series for fans of Shrek and Timmy Failure. Even after rescuing the king from deadly Snuffweasels, Zarf is scum on the bottom rung of the middle school social ladder. After all, he is still a troll. But at least he still has his two best friends, Kevin and Chester...until Kevin disappears, that is. Now Zarf is at an all-time low. It seems a band of wolves are seeking revenge for the constant disgrace they’ve suffered over the years, and Little Red Ridinghood’s kid might be next on their list. Now it’s up to Zarf to crank out a solution from that troll brain of his, and save his best friend before it’s too late. 


Mythology and Magic The Defiant by M. Quint McSweeney’s www.mcsweeneys.net

Ages 8-12

A

ragtag group of kids from the last-chance Greenly School are on a field trip aboard The Defiant—the ship of legendary explorer Sir Francisco de Ventana—when all of a sudden a pink flash lights up the sky and a huge wave unmoors the ship from the dock. Suddenly the kids find themselves sailing the open waters alone in a strange world. Now the kid-crew of The Defiant must navigate dangerous waters, learn to survive life at sea, and decode the instructions in Ventana’s mysterious guidebook, The Codex Mare. While searching for safe harbor, the crew discover strange colonies of other kids on tiny, isolated islands. They also find themselves being tailed by an ominous, red-sailed ship. Through their adventures, the students face hardships and catastrophes that test their resolve and their bond, and threaten their very survival.

Tom Thorneval—Dream Merchant Extraordinaire by Cornelius Elmore Addison Wivern Digital Limited

wiverndigital.com/tom-thorneval.htm

Ages 8-12

T

his rippingly entertaining anti-fairytale follows the misadventures of Tom Thorneval—a likable half-fairy Dreammaker hoping to make it big in the world of men. Unfortunately, his plan has drawn the ire of Fate, and Tom is robbed of all his dreams. With his loyal stoat Wix, a devastated Tom battles on through a series of horrifically funny misfortunes as he makes his way towards what he hopes is the Grand Goblin Fair. Will the courageous halffairy make it back to his true love Mary? Will she be waiting for him? Or will all the orcs, imps, witches, dwarves and mysterious creatures that line the forest paths ruin his one chance at happiness?

15


Mythology and Magic

themed books:

The Diamond Looking Glass

(Cleopatra’s Legacy, Book 3) by Dorine White Skyrocket Press www.dorinewhite.com

Ages 8-12

B

eauty and the Beast. The world knows it as a cartoon with dancing teacups and broomsticks. To twelveyear-old Claire La Fleur, it is family history, and the power behind Belle’s mirror is real. Every ten years her family gathers to see if the mirror will awaken, and for the last two hundred years it has slept. This time, Claire’s touch awakens the magic within the diamond looking glass, a direct portal to the past and a way to communicate with Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt. The lure of power brings with it many perils, and a betrayal close to home thrusts Claire into a treacherous underworld. To protect the mirror, she travels into the Louvre museum in the dark of night, searches abandoned subway tunnels, and walks the catacombs of the dead.

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano Bloomsbury USA www.laurendestefano.com

Ages 8-12

P

ram Bellamy is special— she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix. Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost. New York Times bestselling author Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.


Mythology and Magic The Book of Nonsense

Zacktastic

by David Michael Slater

by Courtney Sheinmel

Zharmae www.davidmichaelslater.com

Sleeping Bear Press www.courtneysheinmel.com

Ages 8-12

Ages 8-12

B

W

efore there were books, there were Words of Power, and those who spoke them could rule the world... Dexter and Daphna Wax don’t quite fit in, even with each other. She loves reading and he loathes it, but neither is pleased by their “special” thirteenth birthday gift: a ruined old book full of nonsense. But the moment it enters the twins’ lives, bizarre things begin to happen. Why is their father, who found the book, suddenly so distant? Is the old man who took it from him some kind of hypnotist? Why is a giant, red-eyed boy stalking them? Now Dex and Daphna have to work together to stop the old man from ruining their lives. But as they unravel the secrets of The Book of Nonsense, they will discover the truth about their own extraordinary destiny.

elcome to a day in the life of Zachary Cooley! Zack barely has any friends to invite to his tenth birthday party. His popular twin sister doesn’t appreciate his efforts to put safety first. And his uncle gives him a scratched up bottle as a gift, and breaks the news that Zack is a genie. Yes, you read that right: Zack is a genie. And faster than he can say “happy birthday,” he is whisked away on his first genie assignment, without any training or instruction. Using his powers to grant wishes isn’t exactly the easiest task, especially since Zack is stuck with Trey, a.k.a. his spoiled “master,” and the bullies chasing them. Zack may be used to protecting people from every day dangers, but he has never before had a day like this! Will he able to save Trey—and save himself? 17


Science Earth/Space Science Engineering & Technology Physics

EXPLORE THE UNIVERSE! Middle Shelf’s Common Core Pick

Math STEM - STEAM

Grades 4-6

H

Astronomy: Cool Women in Space by Anita Yasuda Illustrated by Lena Chandhok Nomad Press www.anitayasuda.com

18

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

ead outside and look up. What do you see? At night you might see stars, the moon, the Milky Way, and planets! During the day all these things will still be there, but they’ll be hidden by the bright light of the sun. Astronomy is the study of celestial objects and what’s beyond the nebulous boundaries of space. In Astronomy: Cool Women in Space, young readers will be inspired by stories of women who have made great strides in a field that takes courage, persistence, and creativity to pursue. Most people have heard of Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, but have you heard of Maria Mitchell or Caroline Herschel? For many decades, female astronomers have been defining the field by making discoveries that changed the human relationship with space. Astronomy: Cool Women in Space will introduce young readers to three women who are bringing the science of astronomy forward and inspiring the next generation of astronomers.


WILD CATS, AROUND THE GLOBE WITH SUKI & FINCH  

Exciting new graphic novel/comic series! English. Spanish. Japanese.

“As informative as it is entertaining!” Midwest Book Review, June 2015.

“The photography is beautiful and bright and will capture the reader’s heart.” Angel Drew, Netgalley, April 2015.

Available at FIND US! “SUKI AND FINCH” ON


excerpts

COOL READS FOR

1

2

MYSTERY

CONTEMPORARY

3

COOL

KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.

4

HISTORICAL 20

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

5

FANTASY

MAGICAL REALISM

6

HUMOR


1

mystery

Ages 13-17 A Big Dose of Lucky by Marthe Jocelyn Raven Books (Orca) | www.marthejocelyn.com

I

don’t go shopping by myself too often. Usually I’m with one of the other girls from the Home—Toni or Betty or my roommate, Cady, or Sara sometimes. I follow along and they don’t mind, even if I’m the one people notice. I’m the dark one or the little darkie or the colored girl. I’m not saying there’s anything especially special to know about me, but still. I have a name. People in town don’t give a hoot about our names or who our parents might have been other than dead. They feel sorry for us—because of the dead part—but otherwise we’re part of who they are. Like at Greene’s Bakery when Mrs. Greene puts an extra cookie in the bag and says real loud, And here’s another treat for good luck, so everyone in the store knows how generous she is. Or at the newsstand when Mr. Arnold saves last month’s issues of Teen Screen magazine and tells other shoppers he keeps them ’specially for the orphans. (We’re not complaining. We like free cookies, and we love getting new pinups of the Beatles or Hayley Mills or Elvis Presley.) Sometimes when we go to town we play a game called Poor Little Me. Whoever gets the most free stuff from shopkeepers wins. Then we divvy it all up and share everything. Which works in my favor, because the darkie doesn’t win too often. I decided on my birthday two weeks ago, when I turned sixteen, that I’d be

braver about things like going to town alone. Today is the test, since the other Sevens are all busy. That’s us, the oldest ones, with Sara oldest of all. We’re the Seven. We’ve been here pretty much since we were born and grown up together like sisters. A Big Does of Lucky. Copyright © 2015 by Marthe Jocelyn. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Orca Book Publishers.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 21


2

contemporary

Ages 8-12 A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel Sky Pony Press | www.bethvrabel.com

I

want to say that the tree was beautiful. But it wasn’t. It was hideous. Huge, massive, twisty, ugly. But somehow, that made it majestic. I thought about what it had blindly faced in two hundred years. Sure, it was rooted in the same spot, but how many storms had it weathered? How many times had lightning threatened one of its limbs? It had stayed still and stubborn through the rise of the town. It breathed in thousands of people’s air, exhaling oxygen. How many lovebirds carved their names in its bark? Kerica counted a dozen aged hearts; certainly there were more that she couldn’t see. How many fights had it heard? How many birds’ nests had it cradled? How many dirty toes and fingers had scrambled up its sides? Even though it always stayed still, the tree never stopped changing. Its bark broke away to reveal smoother, paler bark below as it grew. “Can I borrow a piece of paper?” Kerica asked. I smiled, knowing her sketch would be so much cooler than mine. “Here,” I said, and handed her my notebook and pencil. “No way I can draw this tree.” “You sure?” Kerica asked. I nodded, and she stepped backward from the tree, settling on a bench a few yards away; I guess so she could see it better. I tried to lock the image of the tree in my mind instead. I didn’t realize my

eyes were closed until I felt Mayor Hank’s breath on my head. I opened my eyes and saw that he was waiting for some kind of response from me. About the tree. Maybe about Sinkville. Maybe about me. But then again, I thought, maybe some people saw this and just thought, wow, what a big tree. A Blind Guide to Stinkville. Copyright © 2015 by Beth Vrabel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sky Pony Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 22

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


3

historical

Ages 10-13 I Don’t Know How the Story Ends by J.B. Cheaney Sourcebooks | www.jbcheaney.com

“W

e’ll set up over here by the woods,” Ranger announced, marching toward a scruffy little stand of pine and juniper. While he tramped into the “woods” with Sylvie, Sam leveled his tripod and opened his carpetbag. “What kind of camera is it?” I asked. “A moving-picture camera.” I folded my arms patiently. “What make? Eastman Kodak? Bell & Howell? Burke & James?” “Kodak only makes still cameras,” he said, heaving a squarish wooden case to the tripod and lining up the anchor bolts. But he seemed to regard me with a little more respect for knowing those names. “This is a Prestwich, Model 14. British made.” “Does it belong to you?” “B’longs to my dad. Jimmy Service.” He paused and added with obvious pride, “Best cameraman in the business.” “And he’s letting you borrow it?” “Um.” He seemed very intent on the lens, opening it to peer through and blowing off a speck of dust. “Yeah.” “But how do you develop the film? Where do you get the chemicals and the hypo fixer?” He was so surprised he almost opened his eyes all the way. “You know about that?” “My father—who’s serving his country right now as a field surgeon in France—is an amateur photographer. I help him in

the darkroom.” Though in fact, I didn’t help him much. I liked watching the picture emerge on the print paper but could barely tolerate the smell. “It takes a lot of chemicals to develop a roll of still pictures. How do you manage a whole reel of motion-picture film?” Sam snapped the lens shut. “It ain’t easy.” I Don’t Know How the Story Ends. Copyright © 2015 by J. B. Cheaney. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 23


4

fantasy

Ages 8-12 I Text Dead People by Rose Cooper Random House Children’s Books | www.tkt

There’s no such thing as ghosts. Ghosts don’t exist.

A

nnabel Craven tried to convince herself that there was no reason to be freaked. But then the wrought iron gate slammed shut behind her with a loud clunk and she knew she wasn’t crazy. She definitely had a reason. Anna glanced back, shuddering slightly at the sight of the house looming behind her.. Her house now. Maddsen Manor was run‑down and creepy. Something seriously right out of a horror film. The dingy gray paint was f laked and peeling, and the windowpanes were smeared with grime and dirt. The backyard was overgrown with bushes, and brambles reached out like claws, ready to snatch anyone who dared walk too close. It looked like it had been abandoned for several years, not just a few months. Looking at it made Anna’s heart sink. When she and her mom had gotten the news that they’d inherited a mansion from her mom’s estranged uncle, Anna had thought it would mean leaving behind their cramped one bedroom apartment, getting away from the bad memories and the awful luck that always seemed to follow them. She hadn’t realized their fresh start would include living in a small town where the dead outnumbered the living.

Turning away, she forced herself to keep walking, her eyes darting nervously around the deserted graveyard. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. But that was impossible. The mansion was the only house on the dead‑end street, and her mom had already left for work. I Text Dead People. Copyright © 2015 by Rose Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Random House.

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5

magical realism

Ages 8-12 Molly Pepper & the Night Train by Courtney King Walker Lands Atlantic Publishing | www.courtneykingwalker.com |

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hen she opened the mailbox on the first day of summer break, Molly Pepper found three pieces of mail. The first two items did not seem all that interesting: one, a Woman’s Day magazine; two, her final report card on which she already knew mostly C’s would be hogging all the white space; and three, a small, crèmecolored envelope with her name on it. That was the most interesting discovery. Molly could not recall the last time she had ever received anything in the mail. Not only was the crisp, smooth envelope addressed to her, but it also lacked both a return address and a stamp. No stamp meant somebody had sidestepped the entire mail system altogether and placed this exact letter into her mailbox, probably this very day. Molly popped a cinnamon bear into her mouth and peered over her shoulder for any chance that the owner of the envelope might still be watching her. All she discovered behind her, however, was the sound of the distant ferry whistling through the salty air, and the passing by of an old, white convertible spewing a fume of exhaust in its wake. She coughed in protest, and then ducked behind a lone, thick palm tree, in case she was mistaken. She wasn’t going to take any chances. Who knew what might be out there, hiding in the shadows, watching her every move?

For twenty-point-five seconds, Molly chewed on the remainder of cinnamon goo in her mouth and held her position while surveying the neighborhood for any sign of bedlam. But, she hated to admit; everything appeared just as it should. Molly Pepper and the Night Train. Copyright © 2015 by Courtney King Walker. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lands Atlantic Publishing.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 25


6

humor

Ages 8-12 Camp Omigosh by Wade Bradford Skyrocket Press | www.wadebradford.com |

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here were nine of us. Two of my cabin mates were taller and probably a little older than me. Most of the others looked about thirteen like me, but two kids were pretty short, maybe only ten or eleven years old. “Listen up, ladies, my name is Coach Dunbom!” he said gruffly. “We’re not ladies,” one of the short kids said as he picked his nose. “The girl side of the camp is over there.” “I know that,” snapped the coach. “That’s what I do to the newbies. You get called names like ‘ladies’ and ‘girls’ until you earn my respect!” The tallest kid spoke up politely, “But my mom’s a lady and she’s cool. And some of my best friends are girls.” He was a big kid, built like a running back, with a friendly, honest face. Coach Dunbom stared him down. “What’s your name, junior?!” “Sheldon. Sheldon Drake.” I thought the coach was going to thrash him with profanity—that’s what would happen in my school—but surprisingly the coach yelled, “You make a very good point, Sheldon. Which is unfortunate because I really wanted to intimidate you on the first day. Maybe I’m out of practice. I was a Camp Counselor here thirty years ago, so my political incorrectness might be out of date. The fact remains, I still need a way to insult you, so let’s see. How about ‘maggots’?”

“Some of my best friends are maggots,” I said, unable to help myself. Next to me, Greg, the kid with the guitar, snickered. I heard Parker suck in his breath, fearful. Coach Dumbom stormed up to me. “I’m gonna keep my eye on you this summer, you hobgoblin. Hey! That’s what I’ll call you! Hobgoblins!” Camp Omigosh. Copyright © 2015 by Wade Bradford. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Skyrocket Press.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 26

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find us on facebook

www.facebook.com/middleshelfmagazine


JEM recommends Ages 8-12

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.

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Lilliput by Sam Gayton Peachtree | www.samgayton.com

[Review] 11:58. 11:59. 12:00. Escape plan number 33 is a go. Having been stuck half her life in an iron birdcage as proof that her homeland—Lilliput—exists, Lily is ready for freedom. Why can’t Gulliver understand that? All she wants is to be able to go back to her Nana and their tortoise-shell cottage. But even if she can escape, London is a dangerous place when you’re only three inches tall. On top of all that, Lily doesn’t know where Lilliput is exactly. But with the help of a chatty parrot, a clockmaker’s apprentice, and a Spanish chocolatier, she’s going to find out and hopefully make it home. After reading Lilliput, I felt changed, in a way. It is a very thought-provoking novel that delves into the ethics around what is truly right and what feels right. It has lots of suspense and good descriptions that paint an accurate mental picture of the world from Lily’s perspective. It’s a rather emotional book as well. The writing in the last couple of paragraphs was so moving that I began to cry. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy fantastical stories that also have an element of literary history.


LARA’S reads Ages 10-14

Dear Opl by Shelly Sackier

Sourcebooks | www. peakperspective.com [Review] 8th grader Opl is ready to take on the world as a young woman. She starts by creating a blog, mainly used for advice. Opl originally thinks the blog won’t be going anywhere, but soon finds out that people are listening to what she’s saying. Now that she’s speaking up, she finds that she has a voice in the world. Along with juggling school and a highly popular blog, she also has to do yoga with her Grandfather, and be in a vendetta against an all-time celebrity chef, Alfie Adam, the Nude Food Dude. With so many other things to do, can she really handle giving online advice all the time? I REALLY enjoyed this book. I personally love realistic fiction, and if you do too, this is the book for you. It’s a coming of age tale, (well at least teen age) about a middle schooler who’s bitten off more than she can chew. I think we can all relate to the character, and all of us have been in her shoes, in one way or another. This book was funny and sad, but enjoyable all around. I definitely recommend it.

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

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UNDER THE

COVERS with Matt Easterbrook www.matteasterbrook.com

After earning degrees in Fine Art from Ricks College in Idaho and in Illustration from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Matt Easterbrook has had a varied career as an artist. New to the world of book covers, Matt’s unmistakably quirky style debuts with Wade Bradford’s Camp Omigosh. Come with us under the covers and discover what makes Matt tick.

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Camp Omigosh by Wade Bradford Skyrocket Press


Everyone draws when they are little. I guess no one told me to stop when I grew up, so I kept drawing and drawing. I remember as a young kid watching my older brother Bill draw, and I was very fascinated with the imaginative artwork he created. I can still remember a realistic graphite drawing of an eagle that he created. My older brother no longer draws, but he is the reason that I am still drawing today. 31


The creative path that I took in designing the cover of Camp Omigosh was to first see what is out there, what I was going up against. Next I decided I wanted to keep the color palette limited and simple. I wanted to create an environment like something I remembered while camping as a kid. I wanted the cover to be eerie but not totally frightening. I also wanted to give you part of the story, but not give it all away. 32

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The idea for the image came from reading Camp Omigosh and imagining what it must have been like when the kids first encountered the ghost of dead Billy. 33


I usually work with acrylic paints on wood. But for this piece I decided to do something totally different. I decided to do the painting entirely on the computer using Photoshop and a Wacom pad and pen. I first sketched out the rough image on paper and scanned that into the computer. Then I did all the noodling and painting as well as the fonts in Photoshop.

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Some of the artists that have inspired me include caricature artist Al Hirshfeld, Norman Rockwell, M. C. Escher, Mark Ryden, Joe Sorren, and countless others. 35


Some projects that I worked on include designing and illustrating hotel card keys for a few different Marriott’s Renaissance hotels. Another project included doing concept designs for the playbill for the Broadway Musical “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” I also created online greeting cards for American Greetings. Another project had me designing a billboard for a pest control company ads as well as illustrations for a car wrap for all their trucks. Currently, I do caricatures at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.

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Fun Reading!

Make Andy a part of your children’ s book Collection!

ISBN 978-0-578-13847-3

51895 >

ISBN 978-0-578-13847-3

51895 >

AGES 3-9

www.peachtbooks.com

9 780578 138473

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37


BOOK REVIEWS FOR

BACK

2

SCHOOL 38

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove Penguin Young Readers ages 10 - 14

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Field Trip by Gary and Jim Paulsen Random House Children’s Books ages 10 - 12

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t’s the best day ever for Ben Duffy when he receives a letter inviting him to attend an elite hockey school. But when his dad forbids him to go, things start sliding downhill. Though this book is not particularly descriptive, I found it an exciting, engaging read. I found it easy to relate to Ben; I could really feel the tension between him and his father. One thing I especially liked about this book was that the narration alternates from Ben’s point of view to the perspectives of Atticus and Conor, his pet border collies. I would recommend this book to almost anyone.

n amazing story that offers readers a glimpse into a world where different time eras encompass the globe. In The Golden Specific, Sophia Tims searches for her lost parents in the Dark Ages of Europe, where witch hunts and plagues sweep the land. The environment is richly described, and the encroaching darkness of the dead lands is palpable. Fresh, new characters with unique magical abilities will have readers wanting to follow in Sophia’s footsteps. Their mysterious pasts will bring about unexpected twists and turns. A marvelous and unique book that will leave kids eager for more adventure.

Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez Scholastic, Inc. ages 8 - 12

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hen Cassie Arroyo learns from her panicstricken father of a mysterious organization called the Hastati, her otherwise dull world is turned inside-out. With the help of her friend Simone and a mysterious boy, Cassie attempts to find an ancient spear that can alter the future before the Hastati find her. Moving Target is a fast-paced thriller packed with suspense and action that pulled me into the plot. I really felt for the characters as they sped through Rome on their exciting chase. I really hope there is a sequel: the ending motivated me to read more.

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Westly: A Spider’s Tale by Bryan Beus Shadow Mountain ages 7 – 10

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Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ages 9 - 12

12

-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher grew up in a magic-casting family, but he seems to lack the talent himself—until a mysterious, dangerous stranger comes to town wanting to take Hoodoo’s hand. With the help of his hoodoo-wielding family and his life-long friend, Hoodoo soon faces off against a supernatural villain in order to save himself and everyone he cares about. Hoodoo’s world is vivid and lush with culture and an array of memorable characters. This page-turner promises a spooky tale of mystery, magic, and nail-biting suspense— and delivers on that promise. I couldn’t put it down. 40

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he prince of butterflies hatches out of his cocoon—a spider! When Westly befriends a sweettalking raven, he unwittingly endangers the entire insect menagerie and must use his unique talents to save them all. Westly’s “The Ugly Duckling” twist is actually perfect for younger kids who are not quite sure where they fit into their world. Westly learns that there is nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it is our differences that allow each of us to contribute in our own way. An insightful and fun read-aloud story about honesty, courage, and individual worth.

Milo Speck, Accidental Agent by Linda Urban Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ages 9 - 12

M

ilo Speck was doing his laundry when he fell through his dryer into Ogregon. As it turns out, the ogres have been having some issues with their SuperDry 200s—they’ve been sucking up boys. Fortunately for Milo, he teams up with the Tuckerman Agency, who is trying to destroy the very tricky whazzit and keep the human race’s ogre problems in check. Giant in wit and not lacking in humor, Milo Speck, Accidental Agent will keep young lovers of monsters and mayhem fascinated. Linda Urban combines fantasy, physics, and mystery solving flawlessly in this new read perfect for inspiring giggles.


Hunters of Chaos by Crystal Velasquez Aladdin ages 8 - 12

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Don’t Vote for Me by Krista Van Dolzer Sourcebooks ages 10 - 14

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s Shepard Vale Middle School prepares to vote on their next student president, David is frustrated to find that social climber Veronica is the only candidate. Tired of her always winning, he decides to challenge her in the race. Don’t Vote for Me offers tweens a look into what it means to partake in healthy competition and understand social stigma. A refreshing look at the importance of challenging one another to do our best no matter the circumstance, this book dares each of us to take risks and make the most of every opportunity, no matter how daunting it may seem.

found Hunters of Chaos fun in that the author uses girls from different cultural backgrounds to represent four different wildcats: lion, jaguar, tiger and puma. Each girl has a different way of life and yet they are able to work well together. The Brotherhood of Chaos and the evil god Anubis bring a fun spin to the story. I enjoyed getting into the history of the ancient civilizations and finding out about different artifacts. This is a straight forward story, but the author does a good job with the pace of action and of bringing out the tension. 5 Stars!

Wendy Darling: Stars, Book One by Colleen Oakes SparkPress ages 12 & up

W

e are all familiar with the story of Peter Pan, whether from J.M. Barries’ original 1911 novel or the many film versions it inspired. Oakes’ tale, told from Wendy’s point of view, breathes new life into Peter’s story and makes it her own. This Neverland is far more mesmerizing and dangerous than Barries’, and I was pulled in by the lyrical writing. Every time I opened the cover, I felt completely transported into Wendy’s world. The perilous call of the mermaids, Tinker Bell’s violent obsession with Peter, sinister Captain Hook— all compelling reasons to read Wendy Darling. 41


excerpts

MIDDLE SHELF’S RECOMMENDED

READING Take a bite from your next favorite book.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 42

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


Frank Einstein and the Brain Turbo by Jon Scieszka, Illustrated by Brian Biggs www.frankeinsteinbooks.com

“T

he human body is amazing,” says Frank Einstein, to Watson, in the visitor’s dugout of the Midville baseball diamond, watching Janegoodall on the pitcher’s mound. Frank thumbs the joystick on the remote control for his mini FrankenDrone. The little quadcopter swoops into position above the mound and starts beaming pictures back to Frank’s display. Janegoodall turns sideways to home plate. “There is the whole system of bones making up the skeleton,” marvels Frank. She folds her arms close to her chest, lifting her left leg in a windup. “The whole muscular system is moving the bones...,” Frank continues. Janegoodall strides forward. “The digestive system

producing energy for the muscles...” She pushes off the mound with her right leg. “The heart and blood circulatory system delivering that energy...” Unfolding her arms, turning her body, extending and windmilling her right arm. “And the nervous system controlling everything...Amazing.” Releasing the baseball from her right hand. “Mmm-hmm,” agrees Watson, thoughtfully sucking a sour lemon candy. The ball flies from the tips of Janegoodall’s fingers and across the forty-six feet home plate in just over half a second. Klank swings his bat and misses. Poom! The ball hits Klink’s catcher’s mitt. “Strike one,” announces Klink.

“Projectile speed, fiftyfive miles per hour.” Frank studies the drone pictures and the diagrams of the human body systems on his laptop display. “So all we have to do to help Janegoodall is come up with an invention to make the human body just a bit more amazing.” Frank Einstein and the Brain Turbo by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Brian Biggs. Copyright © 2015. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Amulet Books.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 43


character spotlight

Ages 8-12

Capstone

Ages 8-12 www.capstonekids.com/

characters/Sleepover-Girls/ index.html

W

hat do you get when you combine four friends and endless ideas for craft projects? The Sleepover Girls, of course! Middle Shelf finally caught up with these creative and busy young ladies to ask about some of their most exciting tales!

Middle Shelf: Welcome to Middle Shelf Ashley, Maren, Delaney & Willow. How did the four of you meet? Maren (grinning mischievously): You’ll never guess…but it was at a sleepover. Delaney: Well, not exactly— we’ve known each other since kindergarten. Just the facts, ma’am. Maren (giving Delaney a mock salute): If you’re going to be all technical about it, yes, we’ve known each other pretty much forevs. But the Sleepover Girls were definitely born at a sleepover at Casa Taylor. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! 44

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Ashley: When I think about it, our story is actually super-cute. Maren’s mom edits a travel mag, so Maren always slept over at Delaney’s house while her mom was off jet-setting. Then, when we were in third grade, Maren’s mom returned the favor by letting Delaney sleep over, and she allowed each of them to invite one more person. Willow: And how lucky are we that the chosen ones were me and you, Ash? Ashley: So lucky. It started an epic tradition. Maren: Group hug!


Middle Shelf: So, which one of you is the most creative? Delaney: You could say we’re all creative in different ways. Willow: Delaney’s always the diplomatic one! But she’s right. Ashley is our resident fashionista and pretty much the next Lauren Conrad, Maren’s got the quickest wit of anyone I know, and Delaney’s our creative problem-solver. Ashley: And you’re Ms. Modest…not to mention the most creative one of us all. Painting, art, jewelry design—what can’t you do? Maren: Yep, we’re one creative bunch. Middle Shelf: Has anything ever come between you? Ashley: I’ll ‘fess up to this one. Let’s just say I got a little carried away when a certain someone moved to town…and things got turned upside down in our world for a while. Maren: Including your closet. You went from glamour girl to goth girl in about 30 seconds flat!

Delaney: Long story short, Ashley and this new girl Sophie were instant BFF, but the rest of us were kind of on the outs…. Maren: And then we knew we had to do an intervention when Ashley turned into Sophie’s style clone. We had to step in before Ashley went full robot and forgot who her real friends were. Delaney: And don’t even get me started on the whole cyberbullying fiasco with Sophie… but that brought us Sleepover Girls closer together instead of driving us apart. Middle Shelf: What has been your most exciting adventure together? Willow: Funny you should ask—we actually just got back! The four of us spent spring break together on Whidbey Island in Washington. 45


Ashley: Willow’s family let us crash their annual trip! We all loaded into their awesomely groovy retro van… Maren: Shout out to the V-Dubs! Best road trip ever. Delaney: It was definitely a trip none of us will ever forget, from ghost hunting to kayaking to vineyard hideand-seek. Willow: But my favorite moments with you guys were just the simple ones, like making S’mores and catching fireflies by the water. When the Sleepover Girls are together, we make our own fun! Whether it’s Whidbey Island or good ol’ Valley View. Maren: All together now…awwww. Middle Shelf: Tell us about your craft books. Willow: Well, speaking of Whidbey, my Amazing Outdoor Art You Can Make and Share book was inspired there. Who needs to go to the art store when you can just take a trip into nature? Maren: That’s our little hunter and gatherer. My book isn’t quite as tree-hugger-y, but it still rocks. I learned a ton about paper crafts 46

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

while helping my mom get ready for her wedding to Garish—oops, I mean Gary!—so that’s what my book Paper Presents You Can Make and Share is about. Delaney: You can probably guess the focus of Ash’s book: Unique Accessories You Can Make and Share showcases all of her fab ideas on the fashion front. Ashley: Thanks, Laney. And if I was a brainiac like you, I probably could have written Super Science Projects You Can Make and Share. Burn, Bunsen, burn! Middle Shelf: Any new adventures on the horizon? Delaney: For us, every Friday is an adventure at our weekly sleepovers. You never know what a new week will bring!


Children are gifts from God, and parenting those children can often be a difficult task. In his book “It’s Your Decision”, author Ed Grizzle shows how parenting can be successful when it’s carried out according to God’s plan. Using his life experiences as a guide, Grizzle explores the importance of making the right decisions in life—from choosing the right lifestyle and the right mate, to raising children according to what God has planned for you. As potential parents, how do you know when you are ready to have children? And, if you are ready, how do you plan for those children? Are your parents ready to become grandparents? There are so many aspects to consider when planning to bring little ones into this world. Grizzle presents a guide to strengthening lives and making your family life more enjoyable. He shows how this is possible when you accept Jesus Christ into your life; He will show you the way in the difficult times. It’s Your Decision, Parenting the Way God Intended answers many of the questions you may have about communicating openly and honestly, clarifying roles within the family, and even understanding that children will test parents!

WWW.ITSYOURDECISIONBOOKS.ORG


novelty

Ages 8+

100

full-color, tear-out sheets featuring stylish dragon artwork—simply tear a page out and follow the simple folding instructions (featured on gatefolds at the front and back of the book) to create one of four different decorative origami dragons. 100 Paper Dragons to Fold & Fly by Sam Baer & Andy Elkerton Usborne Publishing/HarperCollins Australia www.theusbornebookstore.com

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nonfiction Ages 11+

Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger Annick Press www.annickpress.com

T

he 1800s were a dangerous time to be a black girl in the United States, especially if you were born a slave. Ella Sheppard was such a girl, but her family bought their freedom and moved to Ohio where slavery was illegal; they even scraped enough money together to send Ella to school and buy her a piano. In 1871, when her school ran out of money and was on the brink of closure, Ella became a founding member of a traveling choir, the Jubilee Singers, to help raise funds for the Fisk Free Colored School, later

known as Fisk University. The Jubilee Singers traveled from Cincinnati to New York, following the Underground Railroad. With every performance they endangered their lives and those of the people helping them, but they also broke down barriers between blacks and whites, lifted spirits, and even helped influence modern American music: the Jubilees were the first to introduce spirituals outside their black communities, thrilling white audiences who were used to more sedate European songs.

UNBOUND

49


graphic novel

The Dreadful Fate of Jonathon York by Kory Merritt Andrews McMeel Publishing www.lostsideofsuburbia.com

Ages 8-12

D

iscover the horrible fate of Jonathan York as he sets out on his journey through a spooky forest with an alarming party of travelmates! Jonathan York has led a boring life—a pointless degree from the community college, a lackluster job at the General Store, and never any desire for something more exciting. But when fate leaves him stranded in a sinister land, he finds himself seeking an adventure of his own. Along the way he encounters ghoulish thieves, ravenous swamp monsters, a dastardly ice cream conspiracy, and a necromancer bent on human sacrifice.

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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!

WWW.DORINEWHITE.COM


BOOK SHELF Promise by Judy Young

K

Buck’s Tooth by Diane Kredensor

B

aden and his grandmother keep to themselves, living a simple life outside the community of Promise. But now, as he starts middle school, things get complicated. Kaden learns that his father, a man he has never known, is getting out of prison and moving home. And just when it seemed Yo-Yo, a newcomer, was offering Kaden a chance at real friendship.

uck’s situation is just silly enough for young readers, who worry about teeth and just about everything else, to laugh at, raising this above the many other books about self-acceptance that populate the shelves. Lots of sight words, full-color cartoon illustrations, easy-to-read speech bubbles, humor, and lots of likable characters add up to a surefire hit. —Kirkus Reviews

sleepingbearpress.com

TRAILER LINK Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Simon & Schuster.

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

B

elladonna Johnson can see ghosts. It’s a trait she’s inherited from her mother’s side of the family, like blue eyes or straight hair. And it’s a trait she could do without, because what twelve-year-old wants to be caught talking to someone invisible?

www.helenstringer.net 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.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


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

S

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… www.geoffreysaign.net Available at Amazon. Mickey Price: Journey to Oblivion by John P. Stanley

M

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.

www.tanglewoodbooks.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Lucy and the Magic Loom by Alice Downes

W

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. www.skyponypress.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


publisher’s corner

www.capstoneyoungreaders.com An interview with

Beth Brezenoff, the editorial director for Capstone’s trade-facing imprints.

How did Capstone get started?

Capstone is a family-owned business that got its start in 1991 by publishing nonfiction books for kids who struggled with reading or didn’t want to read. Nearly 25 years later, we publish both nonfiction and fiction books for all young readers. Helping kids develop a love of reading and learning, no matter their ability level, is at the heart of what we do at Capstone.

Who are the people behind Capstone?

There are MANY people who work together to make all of the books Capstone publishes. I chose just a few to spotlight:

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Donnie Lemke is a managing editor on my team. He works closely with our DC/Warner Brothers contacts to make sure that our licensed books meet all of the guidelines. He also edits and writes books. 

What makes Capstone special?

We firmly believe that reading is one of the most fundamental things a person can learn—and that it unlocks the doors to success. If a person can’t or doesn’t want to read, he or she will have a much harder time succeeding. So we try to offer books and other products to help kids WANT to read.   

Kay Fraser is a senior art director who has also co-written the Faerieground series. She loves to design middle grade novels, including Awards & recognitions the upcoming sequel to Bewitched in Oz, Magic Below.  There are so many! We’ve received numerous awards from the Children’s Book Council, Eliza Leahy is an associate American Library Association, editor at Capstone. One of International Literacy the many titles she’s edited Association, among many others. is Magic Below, which will be Some of the ones we’re most published next spring. proud of are: Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee for our Chris Harbo is a managing wordless picture book Here I editor at Capstone, and he’s Am by Patti Kim, illustrated by also an accomplished origami Sonia Sánchez; many Quick folder. He edited DC Super Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Heroes Origami, and had Readers selections from the to fold hundreds of models American Library Association, himself!


most recently for Batman Science by Tammy Enz and Agnieszka Biskup; and two Children’s Choices awards from the Children’s Book Council and the International Literacy Association for the hilarious picture book Because I Stubbed My Toe by Shawn Byous and the first book in the Sherlock, Lupin & Me series The Dark Lady, which features the childhood adventuress of a young Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Arsène Lupin.  

books to check out

Recent and upcoming middle grade titles.

I’m very excited about Girl Plus Pen, a doodling book that will be published next spring. It’s beautiful and packed with inspiration for people who love to doodle or draw or craft. I’m also looking forward to Magic Below, the second Bewitched in Oz book; and to The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society, a really fun middle grade novel. Those books all come out next spring. Available now is Jars of Hope, a sophisticated picture book for readers ages 9-12 about an incredible woman who saved 2,500 kids during the Holocaust. And finally, we’re so excited to publish the second book in the Chloe by Design series. In Balancing Act, Chloe goes to New York to intern at a famous fashion house—what could be more fun? 

DC Super Heroes Origami by John Montroll & Min Sung Ku ages 8-12 Scrap City by D.S. Thornton ages 10-14

W

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, one of the only real family members Jerome still has . . . 

W

hat happens when you combine Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Justice League with the art of origami? You get the most incredible collection of paper-folding projects ever assembled. These 46 models, meticulously designed by internationally renowned origami master John Montroll, are guaranteed to amaze. With clear, step-by-step instructions and diagrams, simple squares of paper transform into Batarangs, S-Shields, Invisible Jets, Green Lanterns, and so much more. Also included are 96 sheets of specially illustrated folding papers to make your DC creations truly come to life.

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best

of the book blogs Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Review by

AKOSSIWA KETOGLO

Ages 8-12

I

f only Maddy sees the mermaid, can it be real? It’s Maddy’s turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings—the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family’s magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help.

Does she have what it takes to be a hero? This is a story of love, family, community and culture. Maddy’s summer in Bon Temps is marked with good food, magic, but also a tragedy known as the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. The story is beautifully told. The writing is seamless and the characters have so much personality. I also appreciated the author’s take on the water deity known as Mammy Water to my people in West Africa. This book is definitely a keeper. 

MIDDLE SHELF’S BEST OF THE BLOGS AWARDS

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

BEST OF THE BLOGS AWARD 2015 56

THE HAUNTING OF ORCHID FORSYTHIA HEISE READS AND RECOMMENDS GREEN BEAN TEEN QUEEN

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

GEO LIBRARIAN MICHELLE I. MASON CHARLOTTE’S LIBRARY


The Doublecross (And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy) by Jackson Pearce Bloomsbury USA Review by

CRACKING THE COVER

12

-year-old Hale’s family is in the spy business, and because they are, he is, too. When Hale’s parents go missing while on a secret mission, Hale decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands. Well, that and the hands of his spunky, acrobat of a little sister. The two are sure they can find a solution, but when spies surround you, knowing whom to trust can be your biggest obstacle. The Doublecross is one of those books where you can sort of guess the outcome from the beginning but don’t mind because the journey is so fun. All the characters are interesting;

Ages 8-12 Hale, and to a lesser extent his sister, Kennedy, are the stars here. Hale’s personality jumps off the page. You immediately like him and understand where he’s coming from. He thinks on his feet and his voice as a whole is honest with a little bit of snark thrown in. Action and suspense also play a large role in The Doublecross, making the plot arcs flow quickly from one scene to the next. Surprises thrown in here and there add a dash of the unknown and help the story remain fresh. I’m looking forward to/crossing my fingers for more in books in this storyline. 

>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com MIDDLE GRADE NINJA SHARON THE LIBRARIAN SHER A. HART STORYTIME SECRETS

SWEET ON BOOKS THE WRITE PATH

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poetry

House Arrest by K.A. Holt Chronicle Books www.kaholtcom

Ages 10-14

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There are sharks in my throat. Tiny sharks. With supersharp teeth. With laser eyes. They are destroying my throat. From the inside out. There are trolls in my head. Evil trolls. With superheavy hammers. With thundering fists. They are destroying my head. From the inside out. It’s possible I am dying. Infected with sharks and trolls. But I have a math test today. NO REST FOR THE WEARY.


Don’t. Mom pointed at me before I could say anything. Papers all over the table, a calculator, Carla Ramirez’s card, an open brochure for the facility. Don’t. She couldn’t look at me, couldn’t look at Levi in my arms signing more dog instead of brother, pulling my hair. DON’T! She shouted it this time, standing up fast, fluttering the papers, knocking the chair over, making Levi cry. I didn’t say any— I tried to talk but she pointed at me again. She started to cry, ran upstairs. Mama sad, Levi signed. Mama sad. Mama sad. Mama sad. He just kept signing it until I put my hand over his hands. Yeah, little dude. Mama sad. © 2015 K. A. Holt, from House Arrest, More dog sad, too. published by Chronicle Books 59


LAST WORDS

He could almost feel the cold, ghostly fingers on his shoulders. Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey Tundra Books

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


EST. 1972

HPB.COM


september/october 2015

contributors BRADFORD, WADE Bradford teaches English at Moorpark College in Southern California and is the official Guide to Plays and Drama at About.com. He is the author of Camp Omigosh and picture books Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? and Around the World in a Bathtub. He has also written over 25 plays. BREZENOFF, BETH Beth Brezenoff is the editorial director for Capstone’s trade-facing imprints. She’s also a writer of books for children of all ages. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband, who is also a writer, and their two kids.  CHEANEY, J.B. Cheaney’s books have been on Booklist magazine’s top ten young adult books and New York Library’s Best Books for Teens. She was a Pen finalist and nominee the Texas Bluebonnet award, the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers award, and the Indiana Young Hoosier list. COOPER, ROSE Cooper is an author and illustrator with Random House Publishing. Also, she’s a licensed artist represented by Kimberly Montgomery of Montage Licensing Agency, and Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI Northern/Central California Region.

cool reads for cool kids.

EASTERBROOK, MATT Artist Matt Easterbrook lives and works in the suburbs of Los Angeles. He has a BFA with honors in illustration from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. His long list of projects include: American Greetings, Paramount Pictures, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. FUNARO, GREGORY Funaro majored in theatre at the University of New Hampshire, and later received his AM in Theatre Arts from Brown University and an MFA in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. Greg teaches drama at East Carolina University, and is the author of the Odditorium series. GALLAGHER, TONI Gallagher is a reality television producer, having worked on the MTV show The Real World, Season 2, Road Rules, Disney Channel’s Bug Juice, and Dr. 90210. Currently, she is the Executive Producer of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Bravo TV. HARRISON, JESSICA Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind the blog Cracking the Cover. She loves books and worked as the in-house book critic at a daily newspaper, writing reviews and interviewing authors for more than two years.


september/october 2015

contributors HOLT, K.A. Holt is the author of several middle grade novels in verse including House Arrest, Rhyme Schemer, and Brains for Lunch, which received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and was highlighted on the Texas Library Association’s Annotated Lone Star Reading List for 2011. JOCELYN, MARTHE As a kid in Toronto, Ontario Jocelyn loved books and going to the theatre. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a theatre usher, a cookie seller, a waitress, a sailor, a photo stylist and a toy designer, and had her own company. She now lives in New York. JONES, JEN Using her past experience as a writer for E! Online, Jones has written more than 40 books about celebrities, crafting, cheerleading, fashion, and just about any other obsession a girl in middle school could have—including her popular Team Cheer! series for Capstone. KETOGLO, AKOSSIWA Blogger Akossiwa Ketoglo draws and designs publications by day and writes stories by night. She is crazy about any movie remotely connected to Hayao Miyazaki. She has watched Howl’s Moving Castle countless of times. She also loves anime and chocolate.

SAVAGE, J. SCOTT Savage is the author of 16 novels, including the Farworld series, the Case File 13 series, the Shandra Covington mystery series, and the Mysteries of Cove series. Savage has worked as the CEO of an internet company, plumber, French chef, mall Santa and radio talk show host. VRABEL, BETH Former Smart Mama and Global Traveler columnist, Vrabel’s greatest passion is for creative writing, which spans young adult and middle grade novels. Her Pack of Dorks series is published through SkyPony Press, as is her newest book, A Blind Guide to Stinkville. WALKER, COURTNEY KING Walker grew up in the San Francisco Bay area building rocket ships and rafts out of cardboard, hoping to make it the moon or at least Niagara Falls. She now lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and four children, and still dreams of flying to the moon.   Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX 75085. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.


Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids September/October 2015