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Interview with 14-Year-Old Author Ravina Thakkar Books for the New Year Inside Cinco Puntos Press

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

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

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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

january/february 2014





a word from the editor


reader’s challenge


themed books: new beginnings


cool reads for cool kids


novelty spotlight


non-fiction spotlight


graphic novel spotlight




last words




richard peck interview with the author of The Mouse 42 reviews with the Question Mark Tail 44 publisher’s corner kami kinard 46 bookshelf interview with the author of The Boy Problem 52 best of the blogs debut author 54 on our shelf interview with ravina thakkar


under the covers with artist kelly murphy


character spotlight a visit with lin oliver and henry winkler, co-authors of Ghost Buddy


On the cover: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, 2013, Dial Books

Images from Maximillian and the Bingo Rematch by Xavier Garza, illustrated by Xavier Garza, 2013, Cinco Puntos Press and Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan, illustrated by Nathan Fox, 2013, Scholastic/Graphix

a word from the



eclome to 2014 and the January/February issue of Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids. Earlier this year I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Richard Peck, twice winner of the Newbery Award and author of more than forty books for children and young adults. I was so impressed with what he had to say I knew Middle Shelf readers had to meet him too. In this issue, Mr. Peck shares his wit and wisdom in a very special interview. Also, in Under the Covers artist Kelly Murphy reveals how she created the cover for Mr. Peck’s latest book The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail. In addition, special guests Henry Winkler (Happy Days’ The Fonz) and Lin Oliver stop by for a hilarious look at their middle grade series Ghost Buddy. You’ll also meet 14-year-old debut author Ravina Thakkar and author of The Boy Problem, Kami Kinard. Finally, visit with Lee Byrd, founder of Cinco Puntos Press. Of course, we also have excerpts from six must-read books, as well as a host of other spotlight titles deserving of attention. I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that Middle Shelf will become your go-to resource for finding the best books of 2014. Laurisa White Reyes editor-in-chief

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When Casey and Johnny overhear assassins discussing “taking out” an Olympic gymnast just prior to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, they team up with Chelsea and Samantha, and attempt to foil the crime. Suspense, action and lots of fun combine as the team puts their lives in harm’s way to identify and stop the assassins, before it’s too late.

“Gold Medal Threat is finely crafted and suspenseful, and gives kids an insider’s look at the Olympic Games like no other story out there!”

When Casey and Johnny overhear assa Olympic Opening Ceremonies, they tea Suspense, action and lots of fun combi the assassins, beforeATit’s too late. AVAILABLE

—Tim Green, New York Times Bestselling Author “A great novel, with twists and turns that take the reader on a ride with Casey after he finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. Once you start reading, it is hard to put down, with all the excitement that surrounds Casey’s quest to stop killers from ruining the Olympics. A book that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time.” —Tim Parker (age 13)



Balkind is a and suspen "Gold Medal ThreatMichael is finely crafted member of Mystery Writers there!" Tim Green, New YorkHis Times Bestselling A of America. novels; Sudden Death, Dead Ball,

The Fix areturns endorsed bytake th "A great novel, withand twists and that bestselling novelists: James wrong time. Once you start reading, it is hard to Patterson, Clive Cussler, ruining the Olympics. A book will Wendy Corsithat Staub, Timhave you o Green, Andrew Gross, John

andinteresting John Feinstein. "Gold Medal Threat,Lescroart was very and ha a teenager would think, act, and speak. It's ama

reader’s challenge Thank you to everyone who sent in a poem in response to our first ever Reader’s Challenge. We called for 2- to 4-line poems about or using the word “SNOW.”

NEW CHALLENGE: If you could have lunch with a character from any book, who would it be and what food(s) would you eat? Email your response to no later than February 1st. Be sure to include the title of the book in which your chosen character appears. Selected entries will be published in the March/April issue of Middle Shelf.

White fluffy goodness falling from the sky Until people come around and mess it up. William H. (11 years old) Bronx, NY

Colder than rain. Whiter than light. Falls to the earth with a heartbreaking sight. Harrison G. (14 years old) Santa Clarita, CA



Snow is falling fast. Trees and hills are blanketed, snowmen standing still.  Allie G. (10 years old) Santa Clarita, CA

Snow is pretty and white. It makes our faces bright. Camille W. (11 years old) Marysville, WA

Snow is so freezing. I like it that way, because if it wasn’t freezing then we wouldn’t have any snow to play. Tyler W. (8 years old) Marysville, WA

Frozen rain falling from the sky. Covering the land with a blanket of white. Myer L. (11 years old) Stevenson Ranch, CA



author interview


Peck The Mouse with The Question Mark Tail Dial

Ages 8-12

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail


he smallest mouse in London’s Royal Mews is such a little mystery that he hasn’t even a name. And who were his parents? His Aunt Marigold, Head Needlemouse, sews him a uniform and sends him off to be educated at the Royal Mews Mouse Academy. There he’s called “Mouse Minor” (though it’s not quite a name), and he doesn’t make a success of school. Soon he’s running for his life, looking high and low through the grand precincts of Buckingham Palace to find out who he is and who he might become. Queen Victoria ought to be able to help him, if she can communicate with mice. She is all-seeing, after all, and her powers are unexplainable. But from her, Mouse Minor learns only that you do not get all your answers from the first asking. And so his voyage of selfdiscovery takes him onward, to strange and wonderful places. 8


Middle Shelf: You started your career teaching junior high and high school. How did your experiences as a teacher influence your writing? Richard Peck: My students, particularly the middle-graders, made a writer out of me. They kicked the living autobiography out of me; they’d heard all those stories about being young in olden times, and they didn’t believe any of that could happen in a free country. From them I learned that a novel had better be about the readers, not the writer. They also issued regular reminders that a novel must entertain first before it can do anything else. That’s not the sort of thing you learn from majoring in English.

MS: You have written more than 40 books. Do you have a favorite among them? Peck: My favorite book is always the new one. Its characters are the people I’ve lived with for a year as I try every stratagem to get them to tell me more about themselves and the story itself. Thus, my favorite book is The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail. It all came about when my sister and I were visiting the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace. The Mews with its evocative English smell of horse and leather is about the best place in England. We were lingering there one day, waiting to go into the palace because my sister wanted to see the Duchess of


Cambridge’s wedding dress, on display in the throne room. I looked down, and a mouse ran over my shoe. And I thought: he lives here. He’s a mouse of the Royal Mews. I wonder what his story is. That’s all it takes. I’d already written a novel in the voice of a mouse, Secrets at Sea. But this new one isn’t a sequel. And, as no reviewer has noticed, both these stories end on the same day in history, in the same building, two rooms apart.

MS: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail is set in England. What other countries have you visited, and where haven’t you gone yet that you’d like to visit? Peck: Most of my novels have American settings, and they’re on the great American theme of lighting out for the territory. But England is another country of mine, as my newest book points out. I went to college there, when I was young and impressionable, and part of me never



came home. But there’s another country act. Within the pages of a book, and only there, you can try on all those identities I dream of seeing: Cuba…after it’s free. you dare not reveal at school. And a book MS: What is one of the most inter- isn’t Facebook or Kik Messenger or ask. esting things you’ve discovered while fm. And you can’t be bullied by a book. researching your stories? Peck: Researching is easier than writ- MS: Are there any books that continue to inspire you as a ing, and most of my writer? stories are set in the Peck: Two books live past, for a readeron my desk. One is ship who haven’t the novel that made lived long enough to me want to be a see history repeatwriter when I was ing and who aren’t in fourth grade: The learning much hisAdventures of Hucktory at school. Pracleberry Finn. In that tically everything in book, I fell in love the past interests with language and me. And my best day long distance. The of research? In my other book is Roblibrary I came across ert Cormier’s The a box of letters Civil Chocolate War, a rivWar soldiers had eting portrait of the sent to the folks back peer group leader home. From this trove the young always set I found the voices to up over themselves tell my novel, The when adult authority River Between Us. at home and school MS: You have said that reading is the last fails them. I can never be Mark Twain or independent act. What does that mean? Robert Cormier, but I’ll die trying. We all Peck: Until the day when your peer group need our role models, writers or not. And leader can hack into your Kindle, reading all the best role models are dead. And all actual books with pages you turn yourself the worst role models are a year ahead of does seem to be the last independent you at school.

“You can’t be bullied by a book.”



author interview


Kinard The Boy Problem Scholastic, Inc. |

Ages 8-12

The Boy Problem


welve-year-old Tabitha “Tabbi” Reddy believes in signs. Like fortune cookies. Magic 8 Balls. Shooting stars. And this year, she hopes, looking for the right signs will lead her to the right boy! Inspired by her BFF, Kara (star of The Boy Project), Tabbi starts her own “project” in the hopes of finding a cute crush. With the help of a math lesson on probability, Tabbi tries to predict who the right boy for her might be! Where is she most likely to meet him? What is he most likely to look like? Full of fun illustrations, hilarious equations, and lessons in cupcake-baking, life, love, and friendship, this book has a 100% probability of awesomeness. A perfect “next step” for fans of Dork Diaries.



Middle Shelf: Tell us about The Boy Problem. Kami Kinard: Tabbi Reddy is an eighth grader who realizes that she has always liked the wrong kind of boy. She decides to do what her best friend Kara McAllister did the previous year in The Boy Project: take matters into her own hands to change her unlucky love life into a success story. The Boy Problem comically follows Tabbi’s attempts to use charts, surveys, fortune cookies, an 8 ball, and even her algebra project to predict who the right boy for her might be.

that back, definitely Fred. No, George. MS: What other hobbies/interests do you have besides writing? Kinard: If it involves paint, glue, glitter, beads, fabric, wire, fringe, or any of the other supplies found in my huge cabinet (and chest of drawers, and shelf, and several boxes) of art supplies, I’m into it. I also have a small, but growing, art collection.

MS: What is the hardest part of being an author? Kinard: Writing stories, creating worlds MS: How did keeping a diary help you and characters, and not knowing if my stories will be made into books. All as an author? Kinard: If I hadn’t kept diaries dur- authors deal with this, at least when ing middle school and high school, my they are first starting out. I was asked first two books would not exist! That’s to write The Boy Problem, so I knew this because I got the idea for The Boy Proj- book would find its way into the hands of ect from reading my old diaries. In them, readers. That is a great feeling! But we my younger self talked about how much authors don’t always know for sure if our I wanted a boyfriend. Because that was stories will evolve into books. a long time ago, and I’ve been married for many years now, I had forgotten what MS: Do you have any other books in it felt like to want this. Also, I did a fair the works? amount of doodling in my old diaries. Kinard: I am just finishing a fantasy novel So you will see my doodles in The Boy that I’m very excited about. After that gets sent out into the world, I’ll go back Problem too. to working on another funny middle grade MS: Who is your favorite character in a novel that I started last year but had to stop writing so I could complete The Boy book and why? Kinard: Fred Weasley! Because he’s funny. Problem. It involves a vow of silence, a No, George Weasley! He’s funnier. I take tuba, and a garage band.



author interview


Thakkar The Adventure of a Lifetime Sourcebooks

Ages 8-12

The Adventure of a Lifetime


hat happens when the story comes to life? Nine-year-old Betty Hilmar thinks her life couldn’t possibly be more boring. That’s why she’s always reading her favorite book, Amber the Brave. Amber gets to battle supervillains, slay dragons, and have incredible adventures that Betty only dreams of. But everything changes when Betty receives a mysterious new book. Suddenly, Betty finds herself in the middle of one of Amber’s top secret missions. Together, she and Amber must stop the evil Doctor Sly from taking over the world, and as they race from one danger to the next, Betty learns that being a sidekick is no piece of cake.



Middle Shelf: Hi Ravina, and congratulations on your novel, The Adventure of a Lifetime. Can you tell us a little about the story? Ravina Thakkar: The story itself is about a nine-year-old girl named Betty, who, like most kids, longs to go on some type of adventure. To make up for her boring life, she reads adventure fiction any chance she can get. Her favorite series includes a bold heroine by the name of Amber. In Betty’s mind, Amber lives the best life possible, going on exciting journeys every day. One day, when Betty gets to actually join Amber on one of her journeys, via supernatural means, she’s ecstatic...but Betty soon realizes that the adventurous life is a hard one—not to mention that she and Amber don’t get along very well either. All Betty wants to do is go home, but the real question is how. MS: How old are you, and when did you start writing this book? Thakkar: I was eight when I began writing the book, but I’m fourteen now. My birthday was actually a day after The Adventure of a Lifetime release date in December. MS: At what point did you decide to become a writer? Thakkar: I’d have to say I was six. In my first grade classroom, we always had

‘free write’ time, and it was the part of the day I looked forward to most. I guess I’ve loved writing and reading my whole life. MS: What has been the biggest challenge along your road to publication? Thakkar: Sourcebooks did an excellent job of keeping me in the loop, especially when my final revisions were over, but every once in a while I’d feel kind of clueless as to what was going on or how far they were in the publishing process. The hardest part has to be dealing with the anxiety that comes with knowing you’re out of the picture for a while. MS: What is your dream for the future? Thakkar: I definitely want to write more books, but I know becoming a full-time author can sometimes be an unreliable career. Anything in the same field—also known as ‘where I can sit and read and get paid for it too’—seems cool as well. Ravina Thakkar suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal illness that requires her to undergo three 90 minute treatments to clear her lungs each day. The Make-A-Wish Foundation helped Ravina’s dream of becoming a published author come true.


themed books:

new beginnings The Dirt Diary Anna Staniszewski

Star Wars: Jedi Academy Jeffrey Brown



ages 10-14

ages 8 - 12


ighth grade never smelled so bad. Rachel Lee didn’t think anything could be worse than her parents splitting up. She was wrong. Working for her mom’s new house cleaning business puts Rachel in the dirty bathrooms of the most popular kids in the eighth grade, which does not help her already loser-ish reputation. But her new job has surprising perks: enough dirt on the in-crowd to fill up her (until recently) boring diary. She never intended to reveal her secrets, but when the hottest guy in school pays her to spy on his girlfriend, Rachel decides to get her hands dirty.




oan’s one dream is to leave home and attend Pilot Academy like his older brother, father, and grandfather. But just as Roan is mysteriously denied entrance to Pilot School, he is invited to attend Jedi Academy—a school that he didn’t apply to and only recruits children when they are just a few years old. That is, until now... This inventive novel follows Roan’s first year at Jedi Academy where, under the tutelage of Master Yoda, he learns that he possesses more strength and potential than he could have ever dreamed. Oh, and he learns other important things too—like how to make a baking soda volcano, fence with a lightsaber, slow dance with a girl, and lift boulders with the Force.

I Heart Band Michelle Schusterman

The Accelerati: Tesla’s Attic Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman

Penguin Group


ages 8-12

ages 10-14

olly Mead’s first day of seventh grade isn’t going as planned. Her brother ruins her carefully chosen outfit, she’s almost late, and her new band director has some surprisingly strict rules. Worst of all, it seems like her best friend, Julia, has replaced her with Natasha, the pretty, smart, new French horn player! Holly is determined to get first chair, but Natasha is turning out to be some pretty stiff competition—and not just in band. Band might be a competition, but friendship isn’t—and Holly needs to figure it out before she loses Julia for good.

fter their home burns down, fourteen-yearold Nick, his younger brother, and their father move into a ramshackle Victorian house they’ve inherited. When Nick opens the door to his attic room, he’s hit in the head by a toaster. That’s just the beginning of his weird experiences with the old junk stored up there. After getting rid of the odd antiques in a garage sale, Nick befriends some local kids—Mitch, Caitlin, and Vincent—and they discover that all of the objects have extraordinary properties. What’s more, Nick figures out that the attic is a strange magnetic vortex, which attracts all sorts of trouble. It’s as if the attic itself has an intelligence... and a purpose.




themed books:

new beginnings What the Moon Said Gayle Rosengren

Flying With a Broken Wing Laura Best

Penguin Young Readers Group


ages 10-12


hanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin. Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?



ages 8-12


ammie Deveau began life with a few strikes against her. She’s visually impaired, abandoned by her mother at birth, her father was a casualty of the Second World War—and if all that isn’t enough, she’s being raised by her bootlegging aunt. No wonder she dreams of starting a brand new life. When Cammie learns about a school for blind and visually impaired children she becomes convinced a new life is waiting for her in Halifax, but how will she ever convince her aunt to let her go? With the help of her best friend, they devise a plan to blow up the local moonshiner’s still. But Cammie has not managed to change her luck, and things get worse than she ever imagined.

The Silver Strand L. J. Clarkson Self-Published

ages 10-14


ver since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes. The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle’s source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It’s also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn’t count on is that there is more at stake than just her life.

Jessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection Megan McCafferty Poppy

ages 10+


hadn’t even gotten to homeroom yet and I’d already discovered five hard truths about junior high: 1. My best friend had turned pretty. 2. She didn’t know it yet. 3. It wouldn’t be long before she did. 4. That knowledge would change everything between us. 5. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. It’s the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom? Megan McCafferty’s hilarious new novel will have you laughing, cringing, and cheering for Jessica Darling as she learns that being herself beats being popular, pretty & perfect any day. 19











KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.









Ages 8-12 Escape From Berlin by Irene N. Watts Tundra |


ext morning at ten minutes to six, Marianne stood in the hall, dressed and ready to go, with the luggage label fastened around her neck. Her mother was in the kitchen, making a big lunch for Marianne to take on the train. There was a knock on the door. Marianne opened it. Ernest, dressed in the outfit he had worn on that first day when he arrived in Berlin from Freiburg, stood there. He was holding a small package. “I’m going back today,” said Ernest hesitantly. “Home to Freiburg.” “I’m leaving too, in a few minutes,” said Marianne. “I’m going to England.” “I bet it’s a long way on the train,” said Ernest.”Watch out for men in bowler hats.” They both started laughing, remembering their first meeting. Ernest said, “Well, I just came to say good-bye. I brought you something.” He handed Marianne an oddly-shaped package, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. “You can open it when I’m gone.” A harsh voice called from downstairs, “Ernest, I forbade you to go upstairs again. Come down this minute.” Ernest straightened up, his arm flew out, and for a dreadful moment, Marianne thought he was going to say, “Heil Hitler.” Ernest stuck out his hand; Marianne took it. They shook hands. “Good luck, Marianne. Perhaps you’ll

come back to Berlin someday.” “Good-bye. Thanks Ernest,” said Marianne. Ernest ran downstairs, two steps at a time. The door of Number One closed behind him. Marianne went back inside her apartment and shut the door. She ripped open the parcel. Inside was Ernest’s most precious possession—the motorhorn. Escape From Berlin. Copyright © 2013 by Irene N. Watts. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.




Ages 8-12 The Quirks in Circus Quirkus by Erin Soderberg Bloomsbury USA |


enelope took a breath and glanced down at the trapeze net. Her fingers were so sweaty they felt slimy on the trapeze bar. Even though only a few people were watching, it suddenly felt as if all eyes were on her. When she glanced down again to see if she was right, she saw Molly giving her a thumbs-up. Pen hummed and closed her eyes, trying to focus on something other than her own fear and embarrassment. She had to stop freaking herself out, or this whole trapeze thing was going to be a disaster. “Hep!” Vivica yelled again. Then she whispered, “That means you can go ahead and jump, Miss Quirk. Just a tiny step and you’re off.” Pen took one more deep breath, then hopped off the platform. She swung through the air, holding fast to the bar. She wanted so badly to do well. Poof! Penelope’s sweaty fingers and palms went dry again. Rather than feeling as if she might fall, it suddenly felt like her hands were glued to the bar. She tried to lift a finger, and realized that she maybe— probably—was glued to the bar. At least she didn’t have to worry about plopping down into the net immediately, like most of her class had done during their first try on the trapeze. Penelope had a sudden vision of herself as a circus star, her body gliding effortlessly through the air. A moment later, she

felt herself swinging higher and higher. She heard her classmates gasp as she soared over the net, then back again. She felt free and fantastic, flying through the air. It was almost as though her body had been waiting Pen’s whole life to do trapeze. The Quirks in Circus Quirkus. Copyright © 2014 by Erin Soderberg. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Bloomsbury USA, New York, NY.





Ages 9-13 The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding Dundurn |


run us down the empty school hallway into the girl’s washroom and push us into the big wheelchair stall at the end. I slam the bolt behind me then spin around and look at her. I must look a little scary, because she backs away from me until she bumps into the bathroom door. Her eyes get really big and her mouth falls open. Yep. She’s scared. I know that look. “Okay, Jez. You can’t get that look on your face or I’m going to lose it. Just calm down. Okay? Jez? Just shut your eyes for a minute, and I’ll explain.” Jez shuts her eyes really tight and nods. “Uh-huh,” she manages to say, but she still keeps her eyes shut. “What’s going on, Gwennie?” She sounds really scared now. Poor Jez. I slowly start to float up to the ceiling. There’s nothing I can do. I’m gone, floating, spinning slowly above the stall, looking straight down onto the top of my best friend’s head. I sigh. There’s no easy way to do this. I just have to tell her. “Okay, Jez. You can open your eyes when I say, but you have to promise not to scream. Actually, you have to promise not to make any noise at all. Okay? Just don’t do anything? Just look?” She nods and I say, “Okay, you can open them.” Jez starts breathing funny and jagged, but she bravely nods, and with a little whimper, she opens her eyes. She slowly

looks up, first at my dangling feet, then at my legs, then at my body and finally up into my face. It’s in slow motion, just like in a horror movie, when the camera moves slowly up to the horrifying thing hanging from the ceiling. That horrifying thing is me. The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden. Copyright © 2013 by Philippa Dowding. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Dundurn Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


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Ages 10-14


Secrets of the Terra-cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine & Vinson Compestine Amulet Books |

hoa...” Ming stared at the stone door. It was intricately carved with a dragon, lóng, and phoenix, fèng. A glint caught his gaze. “Is that ... is that jade?” In the center of the door, a green ball the size of his fist was resting in the jaws of the menacing dragon. The ball had a hint of red at its core. “Yes,” Shí answered proudly. Ming moved closer. The ball glowed with a dreamy pinkish green light. He reached for it. Shí suddenly pushed him on the shoulder, shoving him out of the way. Startled, Ming fell to the ground. He yelped as his knee cracked against something hard. Grimacing, he saw that he had landed on a small bronze frog, one of three that were nesting among the moss. “Are you always so careless?” Shí huffed. “Did you not see the dragon’s eyes?” Ming looked up. “What? I see...cobwebs in its hollow eyes.” “There are more than cobwebs there, my young friend. If you touch that jade ball, Emperor Qin will welcome you with arrows.” “Yeah—as if they’re still going to work after thousands of years.” Ming let out a nervous laugh. He stood up, brushing a few dead leaves off his pants. Shí gestured over his shoulder with his thumb. “Why don’t you ask him? I think that’s where your lamp came from.”

Ming looked where Shí was pointing. With a moan, he sank back down to the floor. Fear rippled down his spine. Opposite the door and leaning against the wall was the shriveled corpse of a man wrapped in a Mao-style jacket. Secrets of the Terra-cotta Soldier. Copyright © 2014 by Ying Chang Compestine & Vinson Compestine. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Amulet Books, New York, NY.



science fiction

Ages 9-13 The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles Feiwel and Friends |


hase stumbled backward into the foyer, slamming the metal door shut. A siren was blaring inside the house, though he hadn’t noticed when it started. He turned around to call for help and found himself face-to-face with Parker. “What are you doing?” Parker shouted. “Are you insane? Defense, lock sequence!” The siren cut off as the heavy thunk of a deadbolt falling into place sounded in the door behind Chase. His heart still hammered in his chest. “What was that?” “You mean the Zinnjerha?” Parker ran a hand through his hair. “Good lords. If you don’t know what those are, there’s no way you’re from Trucon. If anything, anything, is burned into your memory, that would be it. The whole planet is full of those underground monsters. They could rip you to shreds.” “Why did—it couldn’t get to me—” “There’s an electrified dome protecting the house,” said Parker, waving his hand in a circular motion. “But you still can’t go walking around out there like bait. One or two or five can’t get through, but get two hundred of them riled up and I can’t promise we’ll be okay. Especially with the way they’ve been acting lately.” “Everyone here lives like this?” Why would anyone live on a planet where they couldn’t go outside? “No, in the cities there’s a perimeter fence. But we’re pretty far from any city out here.” An image formed in Chase’s mind of

where they were, in a solitary house out in the middle of nowhere. On a planet he wasn’t even from, apparently. “Where did you first find me yesterday?” “Out there in the yard, setting off all the perimeter breach alarms. And, yes, the Zinnjerha were trying to break through and tear you apart.” The Lost Planet. Copyright © 2014 by Rachel Searles. Excerpt reprinted with permission of Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.





Ages 8-12 All That’s Missing by Sarah Sullivan Candlewick Press |


rlo was thinking so hard that he failed to notice Darcy Meadows poking him in the back with a tightly folded piece of notebook paper. “Here, dummy,” she whispered. “Thanks,” Arlo whispered back. He recognized Sam’s handwriting right away. Sam was Arlo’s best friend. Some might say his only friend. That was because of all the important things they shared in common. 1. They both loved anchovy pizza. 2. They both preferred running to soccer. 3. They both hated fractions. 4. They were both afraid of Nick Halvorson, though neither one of them liked to admit that. Sam lived with his great-aunt Betty in a frame house in the old section of Marshboro, while Arlo lived with his grandfather a few blocks away. When Mrs. Gretzky turned to write on the board, Arlo opened up the note and started reading. Want to go for a run? Arlo looked over and mouthed, Yes. Sam gave him a nod. “Usual place?” he asked. Arlo nodded. At least once a week he and Sam met on the Boulevard near the college to run the twomile path along the river. So far, it had rained every day this week. Until this afternoon. “Don’t let me interrupt your conversation, Arlo,” Mrs. Gretzky said. Arlo whipped around to face the front of

the classroom. Mrs. Gretzky was staring at him. “Since you don’t feel the need to pay attention,” she said, “perhaps you’d like an extra challenge.” Lucy Ashcroft giggled from the front row. “Sorry,” Arlo said. “I’m glad to hear that,” Mrs. Gretzky said. “Why don’t you stop by my desk on your way out? I’ll have something extra for you.” All That’s Missing. Copyright © 2013 by Sarah Sullivan Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.



Me & Jay


The Computer’s Nerd

Rairarubia, Book 1

Against their parents’ wishes, thirteen–yearold Geri Thomas and Jay Thornton discover adventures they never bargained for as they foolishly hop a freight train to take them up the river, accidentally start a grass fire, find themselves chased through a mammoth cave by two desperate men willing to do anything to keep the teens from telling what they’ve discovered. The hard way, they learn that bad decisions can have frightful consequences

A sequel to Me & Jay, young Jay is orphaned and “catches out” on a freight train to avoid placement in a foster home. Instead of a romantic hobo lifestyle, Jay discovers constant physical dangers, frequent hunger, and the fear of being caught by train gangs or angry railroad police. He is forced to examine his personal values and the friendships he’s left behind.

Bullied and mistreated by three schoolmates, Arthur thinks the computer he receives from his parents with a strange program called The Game may be the answer to his problems. The Game allows him to secretly get even with his tormentors. But when the Game begins to go too far, Arthur finds himself in a

Book 1 in the six-book series The Rairarubia Tales. Fun, easy reading, full of suspense, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger. When Molly Doogan asks her father to tell her a story, their combined imaginations create a mysterious, timeless land they call Rairarubia. But as Molly and her father develop the story over time, strange events and mysterious characters from Rairarubia begin slipping into Molly’s life. Soon she finds herself traveling into the story, meeting her main characters, and actually becoming a part of the story!

Writers Notes Magazine Legacy Award Winner Fresh Voices Award Winner Available in Trade Paperback or special order hardcover library bound. Best Books Award Finalist Available in Trade Paperback or special order hardcover library bound.

moral dilemma.

Mom’s Choice Award A ForeWord Magazine Book-of -the -Year Finalist Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Available in Trade Paperback or special Library Case Binding with added information and a bibliography on combating bullying for parents or teachers.

IPPY AWARD Finalist Independent Publishers Finalist Children/Young Adult, ForeWord Magazine All series books available in 6 X 9 Trade Paperback


COVERS with Kelly Murphy


elly Murphy, illustrator of many well-known children’s novels and picture books, started her career after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. While visiting the Society of Illustrators in New York, she handed out postcards of her artwork to various illustrators, art directors and agents. One postcard caught the attention of Wes Adams of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. After meeting in person, Adams hired her to illustrate her first book cover. She has illustrated twentyfive books so far and has received many awards and recognitions for her work.

Middle Shelf talks with Kelly about illustrating the cover of Newbery Award winning book The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck. Come with us now as we go Under the Covers with Kelly Murphy.


Middle Shelf: How did you come up with the idea for the cover of The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail? Kelly Murphy: I was already comfortable with the drawing style of the mice from illustrating Secrets At Sea [also by Richard Peck], so sketching for Question Mark Tail was really enjoyable. I knew that we needed a contrast between Nameless’ humble beginnings and the regal uniforms of the Yeomice, but I could not give away the ending of the story. I wanted to be able to show his youthfulness but yet also his determination! 30


MS: What mediums do you use? Murphy: I still paint traditionally, using oils, acrylics, and gel medium on paper. 31

MS: How long did it take for you to complete this cover? Murphy: From sketch to finish, including editor feedback, the cover took roughly one month. Being a freelancer offers a lot of flexibility within your schedule, but it also means you can’t really take a vacation. You never know when a project may cross your path. I remember accompanying my mother to the seaside one week and I was able to brainstorm as the sea breeze crossed the kitchen table. 32


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novelty book spotlight

Ages 8-12


n this second novel of the Nick and Tesla series, the precocious brother-and-sister duo find themselves solving another baffling mystery. As the story opens, their Uncle Newt takes a consulting gig at a cut-rate amusement park, engineering animatronic figures for a cheap Hall of Presidents knockoff.  One perk of the job is that Nick and Tesla have unlimited access to the amusement park all summer long— but the kids quickly discover that one of the park employees has a sinister plan.  They’ll have to build a few robots of their own to foil him! Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun! 34


NICK & TESLA’S ROBOT ARMY RAMPAGE Bob Pflugfelder & Steve Hockensmith Quirk Books |



THE FINAL STEPS THE STUFF: • 1 D-size battery • 1 strand of 24-gauge 1. Once the battery’s connected, the flow plastic-coated wire of electricity through • 1 3- to 4-inch (7.5 to the wires creates an 10-cm) iron or steel nail invisible magnetic • Tape field. The nail is now • Wire strippers or a magnet, and you scissors should be able to pick up small metal THE SETUP objects with it, such 1. Wrap the wire around as paper clips or the nail, leaving about nuts and bolts. The 8 inches (20.5 cm) more times you wrap loose at one end. Try the wire around the not to let the ends of nail, the larger the the wire overlap. magnetic field and thus the stronger the 2. If necessary, cut the magnetic force. wire so that about 8 inches (20.5 cm) is loose at the other 2. Don’t forget to end, too. disconnect the wires when you’re done. The wires 3. Using the wire and nail will get very strippers or scissors, hot over extended remove 1/2 inch (1.25 use, so never leave cm) of the plastic the electromagnet coating from both assembled! ends of the wire. Ask an adult if you have trouble with this step. 4. Tape one exposed end of the wire to the top of the battery and the other to the bottom.


nonfiction spotlight

Ages 8 and up

How to Build a Hovercraft: Air Cannons, Magnet Motors and 25 Other Amazing DIY Science Projects by Stephen Voltz & Fritz Grobe Chronicle Books


rom the Coke and Mentos fountain makers who found initial fame via Maker Faire and YouTube (more than 150 million views!) comes this collection of do-it-yourself science projects guaranteed to inspire a love of experimentation. Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, also known as EepyBird, share their favorite projects: a giant air vortex cannon, a leaf blower hover-



craft, a paper airplane that will fly forever, and many more. Each experiment features instructions that will take users from amateur to showman level—there’s something here for all skill levels—alongside illustrations, photographs, and carefully explained science. How to Build a Hovercraft is guaranteed to engage curious minds and create brag-worthy results!

graphic novel spotlight

Dogs of War Sheila Keenan, Illustrated by Nathan Fox Scholastic/Graphix

Ages 8 & up

Some war heroes heard the wind whistling over a hidden trip wire. Some war heroes sniffed out a sniper 1,000 yards away. Some war heroes stood tall . . . on four legs!


ogs of War is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice. Each story tells the remarkable adventures of a soldier and his service dog and is rendered with fascinating and beautiful detail, bringing to life the faithful dogs who

braved bombs, barrages, and battles to save the lives of countless soldiers. Based on the real-life roles of military dogs that served as Red Cross rescuers, messengers, scouts, searchand-rescue teams, sentries, and mascots, Dogs of War captures both the adventure and the devastation brought on by war, as well as the celebrations of life and friendship between boys and their dogs.


character spotlight

Ages 8-12

Ghost Buddy: Always Dance With a Hairy Buffalo by Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler Scholastic




illy Broccoli is used to getting expert advice—wanted or not—from the ghost with the most, Hoover Porterhouse! The Hoove has smooth moves and a silver tongue...and he isn’t shy about sharing his words of wisdom! But when a night at the museum finds Hoover face-to-face with the ghost of a powerful Chumash Indian princess, his brain turns into mashed potatoes. Now the tables are turned and it’s up to Billy to help Hoover find the words he needs to make a new friend.

Ghost Buddy: Always Dance with a Hairy Buffalo is the newest release in the very funny Ghost Buddy series. Middle Shelf recently caught up with authors Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler—and had a surprise visit from the books’ namesake.


Middle Shelf: Hi Lin & Henry. Congratulations on the release of your latest Ghost Buddy book. What inspired you to write about a ghost? Lin Oliver: When we finished the Hank Zipzer series, which comprises 18 books, we knew that we had a great partnership and wanted to keep working together. We knew that we wanted to write comedy, because we love making kids laugh. And we knew we wanted to write about friendship, which is the central theme in all of our work. Henry: Instead of picking two friends who are similar in nature, we chose to write about two friends whose opposite natures complement one another, like Richie and The Fonz on [the TV show] Happy Days.  Billy Broccoli is shy and rather insecure. Hoover Porterhouse the Third (a.k.a. The Hoove) is full of confidence, the picture of cool.  Lin: He also happens to be dead. Henry: Well, he is the ghost of a fourteen-year-old boy, yes. The Hoove (interrupting): Wait just a minute there, folks. Watch what you’re calling me.  Most people call me a ghost, but I prefer phantom. Ghoul works in late October, gives it a kind of Halloween-y flair.  What really chaps my britches is when people call me a banshee.  I mean, that’s just rude. Henry:  You’ll have to excuse The Hoove.  He’s very fond of interrupting. Try to keep a lid on it, Hoove, will ya?  Next question. MS: The series is about a boy named Billy Broccoli. Why Broccoli? Lin: Because neither of us likes cauliflower. MS: How’d you pick the name Hoover Porterhouse the 3rd? Henry: Well, we thought between his name and Billy Broccoli’s, we’d have a complete meal. Steak and broccoli. The Hoove: Excuse me, Mr. Famous Author. You didn’t pick my name. It was the handle given to me at birth, and I might add, a name almost as handsome as myself. Wait a minute while I kiss myself on the arm. MS: Tell us about the fourth book in series. Lin: In it, the Hoove finds a new friend, a Native American ghost girl



named Anacapa. Together, they set out to change the world. The Hoove: Whoa there, Miss Smarty Pants. Don’t go telling everyone the ending.  That’s the Hoove’s Rule #37. Don’t blow the ending for your readers.  And while we’re at it, don’t forget the Hoove’s Rule #243. Do not hang out with people who sound like an injured cat when they sing. Lin: Hoove, what does that have to do with what we’re talking about? The Hoove: Nothing, I just felt like sharing. You got a problem with that? MS: What’s the most fun thing about writing books together? Lin: Henry and I love to make each other laugh. We figure that if we’re laughing out loud when we write the book, then the kids reading it are sure to be laughing out loud too. Henry: Plus, we have very good lunches when we write. Chicken salad sandwiches on toast. The Hoove: Which is highly annoying to me, since ghosts can’t eat. Man, what I wouldn’t give for a peanut butter and banana sandwich. MS: In the Ghost Buddy books, how do Billy and The Hoove help each other out?    Lin: The Hoove teaches Billy that the best way to be really cool is to be yourself. Henry: And from Billy, the Hoove learns to become responsible.  Well, at least some of the time. The Hoove: Hey, who you calling irresponsible?  I happen to know, Mr. Winkler, that you are the world’s biggest expert at losing socks.  I assume that’s why you’re wearing two different colored socks now.  MS: What do you think your readers will enjoy most about the Ghost Buddy books?  Henry: (covering up his socks): We hope they’ll enjoy getting to know all the characters in these very funny stories.  Lin: We hope they’ll laugh so hard their eyes roll back in their heads.  The Hoove: I’ll tell you what they’ll enjoy most.  They’ll enjoy getting to know me, Hoover Porterhouse the 3rd? Why? Because I’m the ghost with the most. Henry: I think we better stop this interview now, because The Hoove always has to have the last word. The Hoove: You said it.  Boo!


TEAK recommends

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



Spirit Animals, Book l: Wild Born by Brandon Mull Scholastic [Review] When every child turns 11 they participate in a special ceremony where each child tries to summon a ‘spirit animal,’ an animal that has come from the dead to give guidance and create a bond with their owner. Every 11-year-old must participate in this once in a lifetime ceremony. Some people will summon an animal, while most people will not. Four children, from all across the land of Erdas, have summoned an animal of legend, each with unique abilities. Conor, Abeke, Rollan, and Meilin have all been sent on a dangerous quest. Some of these children have joined the good and righteous greencloaks to protect all of Erdas. The other kid(s) have joined groups for darker reasons… In my opinion, this is one of the best books I have ever read. The way it is written just captures me. I really love the struggle of all the four selected children to try and get affection from these brave animals. If you are a lover of action and fantasy, Spirit Animals is the way to go!

LARA’S reads

Ages 8-12 Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child by Maria T. Lennon Harper Collins [Review] Charlie lived quietly in Malibu with her older sister Penelope and her younger brother Felix. Charlie used to have only one friend named Roxy who was always at her side, but a mean girl named Ashley swept her away from Charlie. Charlie doesn’t like this very much and decides to seek revenge! However, Charlie’s plan goes horribly wrong and forces her family to make drastic changes. I can’t believe that I read this book in just one day. Yes, it was THAT good. Charlie, the main character, is a funny, sarcastic, middle child prankster who has to tackle a new school and try and fit in. One of the many reasons I loved this book is because we can all relate to Charlie in one way or another. Not only is this book realistic, but it also has humor and has a touch of “craziness.” There is something in this book for everyone to enjoy. I couldn’t put it down. In my opinion, this is a true realistic novel, and a fun quick read.

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


publisher’s corner

How the Company Got Started

Cinco Puntos Press

Hill, who knew how to design books, and an equally good My husband Bobby Byrd and I friend, Dagoberto Gilb, who (Lee Byrd) started Cinco Puntos had just finished a collection of Press in 1985 out of our house. short stories called Winners on We were two writers with three the Pass Line, and so we had kids, and we were tired of work- [our first] book. ing for other people. Bobby, a poet, had been published by How Cinco Puntos North Atlantic Press, run by Got Its Name Richard Grossinger and Lindy We live in the Five Points neighHough. We visited them in San borhood of El Paso. Since El Francisco and they told us they Paso is such a bilingual/biculwere making $25,000 a year tural city, we decided to have as publishers. Well, it was the the name of our company be in early 1980s and that sounded Spanish. Cinco Puntos means like a lot of money to us, so Five Points. without really knowing anything about publishing except that The People we loved books, we started Behind the Books Cinco Puntos. Luckily we had Bobby I are the owners and a very good friend, Vicki Trego founders of Cinco Puntos. It 44


was Bobby’s idea to start Cinco Puntos. I am the main editor and the first reader for acquisitions, but we all have to agree on a book before we will publish it. Our son, John Byrd, began working with us right from the start when he was in high school. All our kids did actually, but Johnny came back to work with us full time about eight years ago. Johnny does all our marketing, plus editing, and lots of IT work. Mary Fountaine does our shipping and inventory management. She also runs her own soap business, called Cactus Mary, and sells soap out of our store front. We have two great part-time long-distance employees. Elena Marinaccio, who lives and works in West-

chester, New York, manages our website. Jessica Powers lives in San Francisco and helps John with marketing. Jessica is a wonderful author and we have been able to publish two of her books: That Mad Game and This Thing Called the Future.  We are really grateful for the people we work with.  Actually, we all do everything, including making coffee and doing dishes!

books to check out

Awards and Recognitions

Our books have won national awards at every level, including two Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, one in 2005, one in 2010; a Pura Belpe Honor Book; two Aesop Awards; a Pen/Faulkner award; Notable Books from ALSC; Notable Books for a Global Society.

Current and Future Middle Grade Releases

We just released Xavier Garza’s Maximillian and the Bingo Rematch, the sequel to Maximillian and the Guardian Angel, and Next, a young adult novel by Kevin Waltman. We don’t have any other middle grade titles planned, BUT we are always looking for middle grade books, especially those written by Native Americans and by Latino/a writers because we see that many middle graders aren’t seeing themselves and their culture in books.

Maximillian and the Bingo Rematch by Xavier Garza Cinco Puntos Press ages 8 – 12


verybody’s fighting in Maximilian’s world: a couple of cranky tías who, like lucha libre rudos, will stop at nothing to triumph in the church’s lotería game; his masked uncles going for the tag-team title of the world, and a greeneyed vixen named Paloma who challenges his love for Cecilia Cantú. Will good triumph over evil? Max sure hopes so!

Next by Kevin Waltman Cinco Puntos Press ages 12 & up


errick Bowen has one thing on his mind when basketball practice starts his freshman year: winning the starting point guard job. (Well, a girl too.) But his old-school coach makes him sit on the bench. An elite prep school wants him to transfer from his inner-city public school, but all the adults steering him there have ideas of their own.


BOOK Artama & The Watchtower Portal: The Second Journey by Bruce Paul “Magical and mystical.” “An imaginative, thoughtprovoking adventure for teens.”


mong the countless stars, there is but one decision to make.

Journey with Artama through the watchtower portal, on a quest for answers about dragons, other worlds, and matters of the heart. Available at Amazon. Dumb Luck by Tyrolin Puxty tacey had everything most girls dream of, including popularity. Then her friends move to another school and bet that Stacey won’t make any friends if she enrolls. Determined to prove them wrong, Stacey goes to extremes to prove that she can fit in anywhere. After encounters with the police, an embarrassing public flash and a near death experience, Stacey is beginning to suspect that fitting in isn’t easy.

S Available at Amazon.

Tayla Bayliss: Code Breaker by E.J. Gore “Taya is a new age Nancy Drew” —Goodreads review


n this third book in the Taya Bayliss series, a recurring dream, a series of lies and the discovery of a body on the beach challenge Taya’s relationship with her father. Her keen eye for detail and quick thinking come to the fore as she wrestles with an emotional, environmental mystery., Available at Amazon. Dark Entities by R. Scott Campbell


sci-fi adventure that focuses on a terrifying life form that threatens the town of Boswell.

“Debut author Campbell has a knack for creepy and gory details, and several ominous passages may give goose bumps to even the most level-headed readers. The Tor, with its soupy, sulfuric smog, and the surrounding town...are like something from The Twilight Zone.” —Kirkus Review Full Kirkus review available on author’s website at Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters and Indigo.

BOOK Maybe It’s Magic by K.L. Pickett


ippy wants a horse more than anything in the world. Plan One, begging her mom for one, doesn’t work. Plan Two, performing her own made-up magic spell, conjures up a tiny glass horse statue. Maybe it’s magic! If it is, she can use its powers to get a real one. Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery by Ace Hansen


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. Janitors: Curse of the Broomstaff by Tyler Whitesides


hen a mysterious green gas crisis breaks wind, the Global Air Group (GAG) offers a milliondollar prize to the person to discover the cause. Julius dreams of winning the cash so he can pay off Jake the Snake, the bully who threatens to ruin his chances with the cutest girl in fifth grade.

he Bureau of Educational Maintenance is after Alan Zumbro and this time they mean business, deadly business. Spencer, Daisy, and their little team of rebels must find the source of all magical Glop and destroy it before it can destroy the world as we know it. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.


BOOK The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe by Brandon Mull


omething fishy is going on at the new amusement center in Walnut Hills. The trouble seems to be linked to the mysterious disappearance of Mozag and John Dart, who have spent their lives policing the magical community. “A rollicking adventure, sure to delight young readers—especially those with a sweet tooth.” —Midwest Book Review Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound. Glitter Girl by Tony Runkle


orty-eight hours after she blogs about the goodies in the new line of Glitter Girl cosmetics, every girl at Kat’s school is sporting the gear. Kat’s popularity skyrockets, but Jules—Kat’s BFF— seems to be the only one who’s not buying into the Glitter Girl lifestyle. Is Kat willing to sacrifice her friendship for life in the fab lane? Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.

Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs


secret society, a lost fortress, a precious artifact only Samantha Sutton can protect. Twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton isn’t sure she wants to go to England with her Uncle Jay, a brilliant, risk-taking archeologist. But the trip seems safe enough—a routine excavation in Cambridge— and Samantha has always had a love for the past. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.


Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space. 214.704.4182.

BOOK Penny Dreadful and the Horrible Hoo Haa by Joanna Nadin


y name is not actually Penny Dreadful. It is Penelope Jones. The Dreadful bit is my dad’s JOKE. Actually, I am not even dreadful at all. I didn’t mean for Marlon, who is our school goat, to eat a mobile phone or do some poo that looks like chocolate drops. Available at Amazon. The Dark Lady (Sherlock, Lupin & Me) by Irene Adler


hile on summer vacation, little Irene Adler meets a young William Sherlock Holmes. The two share stories of pirates and have battles of wit while running wild on the sunny streets and rooftops. But the good times end abruptly when a dead body floats ashore on the nearby beach. Available at.Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


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. ROOFTOPPERS by Katherine Rundell


here were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck that left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive—but “almost impossible” means “still possible.” Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.

BOOK Victory on the Homefront by D.S. Grier


fter being ostracized thanks to the school bully, Les spends time dissecting a dead cat in his secret science lab, scaling the attic roof, and tapping phone lines, which seems like a great idea until the FBI comes calling. It’s time for Les to go, so he plans his escape. Available at Amazon. Owner’s Manual For Driving Your Adolescent Brain by JoAnn Deak and Freya Harrison


hink you know everything about your brain? Think again! Get the goods on glia and the news about neurons, presented in a fun and engaging format. Hang on to your hemispheres, and prepare to have your mind boggled as you learn about the workings of the brain in its second decade. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.

Time Fetch by Amy Herrick


dward picks up what he thinks is a rock. He doesn’t know it is a sleeping Time Fetch— and touching it will release its foragers too soon and alter the entire fabric of time and space. A fast-paced tale filled with mythology, danger, friendship, and a shocking centuries-old secret. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.


Promote your book in Middle Shelf in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Middle Shelf is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space. 214.704.4182.

BOOK Time Trapped by Richard Ungar


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



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. The Dry by Rebecca Nolen


asey is spending a few summer days with her parents at Disneyland. Just like they do every summer. Except this summer is different. Standing in line for the Indiana Jones Adventure, she bumps into Bert, but Bert’s parents are mysteriously absent. And he wears an old, broken Mickey Mouse watch. Bert has secrets.

deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn’t account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-yearold son he left behind. When Elliot discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him. Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


of the book blogs

The Hoop Kid from Elmdale Park Teko Bernard Elmdale Park Books

Ages 8-12 Review by



ernard is spending the summer at his grandparents’ in Elmdale, and all he wants to do is work on his basketball skills so he can join the ninth grade team in the fall. But when he learns of the plans of one greedy, ruthless businessman to turn the once beloved Elmdale Park into a landfill, Bernard knows he must do something. The outcome of the Annual Elmdale Park Basketball Tournament will determine the fate of the park, and Bernard is determined to win…but first he must put together a winning team. The Hoop Kid from Elmdale Park offers a fun, relevant story about determination, believing in yourself, the importance of teamwork, and what really matters in life. Bernard is a super likable, relatable, and plucky guy who isn’t obnoxiously perfect or too flawed. He’s someone young readers will believe in and want to be friends with. There’s also a female character that is not only smart and funny, but also athletic. The most unusual and interesting character isn’t human at all, but a talking, thinking, coaching basketball! At only 125 pages, The Hoop Kid from Elmdale Park can easily be read in one or two sittings by young readers, and the brisk pace and exciting sports action will easily hold readers’ attention. 52


The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson HarperCollins

Ages 8-12

Review by



loved, loved, loved Magic Marks the Spot. Hilary, our heroine, has spent most of her life wanting just one thing: to be a pirate. Unfortunately, young ladies are not allowed into the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates. And when she makes the application, well, the league itself steps in to “do the right thing” and enroll her in Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies. And it is to finishing school she goes, for a while at least, but she has no plans for staying there. She is waiting for the right opportunity to escape. And when the moment does come, she sneaks away to answer an advertisement [for a pirate crew]. Magic Marks the Spot is historical fantasy. Magic is very real in the world Carlson has created. It is not equally distributed, however. Magic plays a definite role. Hilary’s gargoyle is magic. And he is a delightful part of the story! The action and adventure centers on finding magical treasure, and the mystery on finding the thief who has been stealing magical objects from the elite ruling class. I enjoyed this one so much! The characters are quite fun. The story is just delightful with plenty of surprises! Would definitely recommend! 53

on our shelf

The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell Peachtree ages 8 – 12

ages 12 – 17


ired of being a muse to her sculptor mother, fifteen-yearold Aiko Cassidy longs to see her own artwork, in the form of a manga she calls Gadget Girl, take the spotlight—even if the world doesn’t know she’s the author.

he Other Side of Free tells the story of a young boy rescued from slavery and sent to live at Fort Mose, a Spanish settlement in 1739 Florida.

Jem’s story details an obscure event in American history surrounding the first free African society on American soil, a generation before the Revolutionary War. This book is a must read. I loved Jem and his efforts to raise a wounded baby owl. And learning about the slave uprising in the North that motivated so many to travel to Fort Mose and toward freedom was simply inspiring. The Other Side of Free is beautifully written, yet simple enough for younger readers to read on their own. It would make the perfect addition to any American History or Black American History curriculum. 54


Gadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata GemmaMedia


Author Suzanne Kamata’s bicultural, likeable protagonist is anything but dull to read about as readers follow her across the Atlantic Ocean and into a whirlwind emotional adventure. The beauty of France and the intrigue of Japan emerge flawlessly from within the book’s pages, sure to capture both the hearts and imaginations of readers. I would recommend it highly to any young person with a passion for art looking for a short, inspiring read.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Random House ages 8 – 12


o distract his daughters from sadness in the wake of their mother’s death, Ophelia’s father accepts a job curating a sword exhibit at a very strange museum in a town where it never stops snowing. While exploring the museum’s countless collection-filled corridors, Ophelia finds a secret room in which the fabled Snow Queen has trapped a nameless young boy for 303 years. Readers are sure to be captivated by the crazy ghosts, miserable monsters, and creepy museum workers lurking in this book. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a dynamic, delightful tale of friendship and bravery that’s just the right adventure to read on a winter night.

Adventurers Wanted #4: The Sands of Nezza by M.L. Forman Shadow Mountain

ages 13 - 17


or the first time, wizard Alexander Taylor heads off on an adventure by himself. A note of distress from a fellow adventurer brings him to Nezza, a land of sand, where people believe magic is evil. Readers will be entertained by this fullon adventure. There is an evil sorcerer intent on ruling the land. Wizard Alex accidently steps into the middle of things and rescues the rightful heir to the throne, Prince Rallian. The prince’s rescue brings about a series of long foretold prophecies that Alex unwittingly fulfills. There is plenty of action as warring armies battle each other and a great scene where Alex uses his dragon powers to devastate the enemy. Kids will love this book! 55



aby daydreams to tune out her parents’ arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her...until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick with daydreams,” Gaby grows more confident about herself and her future. This verse novel poignantly celebrates the power of writing and the inspiration a good teacher can deliver.

Words with Wings Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes Boyds Mills Press

Ages 8+



Some words sit still on the page holding a story steady. Those words never get into trouble. But other words have wings that wake my daydreams. They fly in, silent as sunrise, tickle my imagination, and carry my thoughts away. I can’t help but buckle up for the ride!

Two of a Kind

Mom calls me Daddy’s girl ’cause him and me, we’re both dreamers. “Close your eyes,” he used to say. “Tell me what you see.” I’d say, “Sky, shooting stars, rainbows wrapped round the earth.” “Now, it’s my turn. I see: you and me bundled up in silver space suits, bouncing on the moon. Race you!” he’d say. And we’d laugh, back before he moved across the street and we moved across the city. Our laughter has a lot farther to travel now. From Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes. Copyright © 2013 by Nikki Grimes. Published by WordSong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press. Used by permission. 57

EST. 1972



People setting off on new lives can’t be sissies.

— from Esme Dooley, by Jane Donovan (Sky Candle Press)


january/february 2014

contributors BERNARD, TEKO Bernard owns and operates Elmdale Park, an original kids’ entertainment and cartoon company that produces middle grade chapter books and active wear. He lives in Overland Park, Kansas. BEST, LAURA Best’s first book, Bitter, Sweet, was shortlisted for The Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. Flying with a Broken Wing is the second book from the Nova Scotia resident. BROWN, JEFFREY Brown’s art has been shown at galleries in New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Paris. Jeffrey’s work has also appeared in the Best American Comics series and received the Ignatz Award in 2003 for ‘Outstanding Minicomic.’ BYRD, LEE Lee Byrd and her husband, Bobby, own Cinco Puntos Press, a very independent publishing company rooted in El Paso, Texas. Their company and books have received many awards and recognitions. CARLSON, CAROLINE Caroline Carlson holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Massachusetts and now lives with her husband in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania amidst many stacks of books. CLARKSON, LOUISA J. L.J. ‘Fibber’ Clarkson tells everyone she gave up her Environmental Engineering career to write full time. But that’s not entirely true. She spends a good deal of her time sleeping in and running Indicated [], a promotional site for authors. The Silver Strand is her first novel. COMPESTINE, YING CHANG Originally from Wuhan, China, Ying Compestine never dreamed she’d write books in her second language, English. She spent many years as a teacher, writes for many magazines, and is a spokesperson for Nestle Maggi and Celestial Seasonings.

cool reads for cool kids.

COMPESTINE, VINSON Compestine, a junior in high school, has edited several works and co-wrote Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier with his mother. He is currently studying business at the University of Southern California. He is also an accomplished pianist, runs cross-country, and teaches chess. DOWDING, PHILIPPA Toronto native Dowding is a freelance copywriter, has published poems in various literary journals and has been nominated for several book awards. In March 2013 The Gargoyle at the Gates was named a White Raven book by the International Youth Library in Munich. FORMAN, M. L. Born and raised in Utah and now residing in the foothills of the Western Rockies, Forman is a full-time systems administrator. He enjoys fishing, camping and hiking. He is the author of the Adventurers Wanted series. FOXLEE, KAREN Karen Foxlee was born in Mount Isa, Queensland. She has worked most of her adult life as a registered nurse, has a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in creative writing, and lives in Gympie, Australia. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is her third novel. GARZA, XAVIER Garza is a prolific author, artist, and storyteller whose work focuses primarily on his experiences growing up in the small border town of Rio Grande City. Garza has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout Texas, Arizona and the state of Washington. GRIMES, NIKKI New York Times best-selling author of many notable books for children and teens, Grimes received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 2006 and the Coretta Scott King Award for her novel Bronx Masquerade. Words with Wings is her latest release. GROBE, FRITZ Half of the famed duo EepyBird, Grobe left Yale University to become a circus performer. He won 5 gold

january/february 2014

contributors medals at the International Jugglers Championships and set a world record for the most objects juggled between two people: fifteen. EepyBird has appeared on many TV shows.

Spelunking, is a proud self-proclaimed TV junkie and literature enthusiast. She has a B.A. in Literature and Language.

HOCKENSMITH, STEVE Author of several short story anthologies, Hockensmith’s novel Holmes on the Range was a finalist for several awards including the Edgar. After being an entertainment journalist, he turned his attention to publishing. Nick and Tesla is his first children’s series.

MCCAFFERTY, MEGAN Author of the popular Jessica Darling novels and several other books and short stories, McCafferty is a volunteer for HiTops adolescent health services and education center in Princeton, New Jersey. Jessica Darling’s It List is the first pre-quel to her best-selling series.

KAMATA, SUZANNE Kamata’s short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications. She is the fiction editor for the popular e-zine Literary Mama, and edits and publishes the magazine Yomimono.

MULL, BRANDON Best-selling author of the Fablehaven and Beyonders series, Brandon Mull is contentedly living his dream as a full-time author. Spirit Animals is a new fantasy series with each book written by a different author.

KEENAN, SHEILA New York resident, Sheila Keenan, is the author of several books for children and collaborated with David Macauley on his How It Works non-fiction series. She and her husband, David Duggan, are currently working on a picture book about a whale rescue.

OLIVER, LIN President of The Society of Children’s Books Authors & Illustrators and prolific author, Lin Oliver is best known for her charm and humor—and her books, which include the Hank Zipzer (co-authored with Henry Winkler) and the Sound Bender series (co-authored with Theo Baker).

KINARD, KAMI A teaching artist on the SC Arts Commission’s Roster of Approved Artists, Kami writes from Beaufort, South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two children. LANEY, BECKY Becky’s Book Reviews is a popular blog reviewing books for both children and adults. She has a MA degree and MLS degree from Texas Womens’ University. She loves to promote books and the love of reading. LENNON, MARIA T. Lennon graduated with honors from the London School of Economics and taught English in Italy at the International School in Genova. She currently lives in California. MATTESON, AEICHA Aeicha, the personality behind the popular blog Word

PECK, RICHARD Mr. Peck was awarded two Newbery Awards: 2001 for A Year Down Yonder and 2013 for The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail. He has written more than 40 books and been given many honors. Raised in Decatur, Illinois, he currently resides in New York. PFLUGFELDER, BOB Science Bob has been a fan of science since he was six years old. Bob has been featured on many TV shows. He turned an ambulance into a traveling science lab, and manages the website ScienceBob. com. [] ROSENGREN, GAYLE Former copy editor with American Girl, Rosengren has published short stories with children’s magazines including Cricket, Jack and Jill, and Children’s Digest. What the Moon Said is her first novel.

cool reads for cool kids.

january/february 2014

contributors RUSSELL, KRISTA Russell holds master’s degrees from Seton Hill University and The London School of Economics and Political Science. The Other Side of Free, winner of the 2013 Parents’ Choice award, is her second novel.

THAKKAR, RAVINA 14-year-old Ravina Thakkar’s book, The Adventure of a Lifetime, is truly a wish come true. Thakkar suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, and The Make A Wish Foundation helped her achieve it’s publication.

SEARLES, RACHEL Searles has lived and worked abroad in Munich and Istanbul, but now resides in Los Angeles where she lives with her rocket science husband and two cats. The Lost Planet is her debut novel.

VOLTZ, STEPHEN Voltz earned a law degree from New York University and was a trial lawyer. But before that, he taught himself to juggle at an early age and to eat fire when he was a teenager. The 2nd half of EepyBird, Voltz has always enjoyed performing, something his daughter enjoys as well.

SCHUSTERMAN, MICHELLE Steel Drum player Schusterman studied music education at the University of North Texas. She has performed with several bands, was a band director, and taught kindergarten in Korea. Her next series of books, The Ex-Kat Files, launches in 2015. SHUSTERMAN, NEAL Award-winning author of more than 30 books, Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, NY where he began writing at an early age. He is a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer, having worked on such popular shows as Goosebumps and Animorphs. SODERBERG, ERIN Mother, storyteller, and writer, Soderberg has lived in many places including New York, England, and Sweden. The third book in her Quirks series, The Quirkalicious Birthday, will be released in November 2014. STANISZEWSKI, ANNA Born in Poland and raised in the US, Staniszewski was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. She is the author of The Very Unfairy Tale Life series. SULLIVAN, SARAH Sarah spent fourteen years practicing law but was always secretly writing. Much of her book, All That’s Missing, is inspired by Tappahannock, Virginia where her grandparents lived and her family used to gather for Thanksgiving.

cool reads for cool kids.

WALTMAN, KEVIN Author of four books for young people, Waltman teaches writing and literature and also does administrative work at the University of Alabama. He lives in Alabama with his wife and daughter. WATTS, IRENE N. Author of many historical books and plays, Irene Watts was a young girl in Berlin, Germany then was sent to England on a Kindertransport, leaving both her family and her love of theater behind. She now lives in British Columbia, Canada. WINKLER, HENRY Beloved television and film actor, director, and producer, Winkler is also the co-author of the Hank Zipzer and Ghost Buddy series. He earned his MFA from Yale School of Drama, and was also awarded honorary doctorates from Emerson and Austin Colleges. Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, 3322 Greenview Drive, Garland, TX 75044. Copyright 2013 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to to subscribe.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids -- January/February 2014  

What to read next for middle-grade-level readers. Find your new favorite book in Middle Shelf.

Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids -- January/February 2014  

What to read next for middle-grade-level readers. Find your new favorite book in Middle Shelf.