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MARCH/APRIL 2014

FEATURING

NEAL SHUSTERMAN ERIC ELFMAN BRIAN THOMPSON Interview with debut author Louise Galveston Books about extraordinary friendships Inside Peachtree Publishing


“Only a ‘kau’ pai’ would fail to chortle, and that’s no bull!” —BOOKLIST

LOST IN BERMOODA Bermooda has no “outsiders,” and most prefer to keep it that way. That is, until Chuck ventures into the boneyard alone and discovers a human boy named Dakota. The duo becomes fast friends, but can Chuck cowmouflage Dakota enough to keep his true identity a secret? ISBN # 978-0-8075-8718-8 • $14.99/$16.99 Canada • Ages 7 - 10

CROWN OF THE COWIBBEAN (FALL 2014) Chuck and Dakota are back in the next Bermooda adventure! When Chuck and Dakota sneak onto Marco Pollo’s ship, they accidentally become part of Marco’s high sea capers. The duo sets sail to a world of adventure, as they encounter underwater villains, giant spider crabs, and an unforgettable evil Kingfish. ISBN # 978-0-8075-8719-5 • $14.99/$16.99 Canada Ages 7 - 10

AlbertWhitmanCompany

@AlbertWhitman

albertwhitmanco


staff

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

What to read next?

Christina Davidson c re a t i ve d i re c tor

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For a dve r tising inqu ir ie s: c al l 2 14.704.4182 or e- mail m a rga ret@ s he l fm e di agrou p.c om For editor ial inqu ir ie s: e- mail la u ris a @ s helfm e di agrou p.c om or write to Mid d le Sh e l f, 28020 New b i rd D r i ve, S augu s, CA 91350

Illustration: Brian Thompson from Invisible Tower by Nils Johnson-Shelton

COOL READS FOR KIDS


SUPER SCHNOZ and the Gates of Smell Andy Whiffler is your average boy... except his nose is so big he can use it to fly and his sense of smell is a hundred thousand times stronger than any human! When Andy starts at a new school, his classmates instantly pick on him. But, when Andy’s nose can help save summer vacation, will the class stand behind the powers of Super Schnoz? ISBN # 978-0-8075-7555-0 • $14.99/$16.99 Canada • Ages 8 - 12

SUPER SCHNOZ and the Invasion of the Snore Snatchers (FALL 2014)

“Super Schnoz smells like a winner!” —KIRKUS

AlbertWhitmanCompany

Super Schnoz is the world’s loudest snorer. He snores so loud he’s heard in outer space where aliens are harvesting his snores to prepare for an invasion on earth! Can Super Schnoz stop the aliens before they blow everyone away? Get ready for another smelly adventure! ISBN # 978-0-8075-7557-4 • $14.99/$16.99 Canada Ages 8 - 12

@AlbertWhitman

albertwhitmanco


march/april 2014

contents

DEPARTMENTS

12

neal shusterman & eric elfman interview with the authors of telsa’s attic: the accelerati trilogy, book I

16 nils johnson-shelton interview with the author of the dragon king, otherworld chronicles, book 3 18

debut author interview with louise galveston

34

under the covers with artist brian thompson

46

character spotlight a visit with zoey, from the sew zoey series

6

a word from the editor

8

reader’s challenge

20

themed books: extraordinary friendships

24

cool reads for cool kids

40

non-fiction

41

graphic novel

42 novelty 48 reviews 50

publisher’s corner

52

best of the book blogs

54

on our shelf

56

poetry

58

last words

60

contributors

On the cover: Illustration by Brian Thompson from The Dragon King by Nils Johnson-Shelton

Images from Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle by Jarret J. Krosoczka, Random House Children’s Books, and Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles: Fish Finelli, Book I by E.S. Farber, Chronicle Books


HE T ANGING H REE T A NOVELLA BY

MICHAEL PHILLIP CASH

S

eventeen year old Arielle is at a crossroads in her life. Disenchanted with her father, she is testing the boundaries of his trust by dating someone he does not approve. Under the moonlit sky in Long Island, Arielle and her boyfriend meet beneath the infamous hanging tree. The couple’s destiny is rooted to the five spirits in the tree whose lives and deaths are determined by an ancient curse. Will her future be determined by the past or will Arielle’s choices alter the course of her life?

“Author Michael Phillip Cash accomplishes a lot in only ninety one pages.  He parallels three generations of stories dealing with family issues, rebellion, sexuality, hypocrisy, deceit, prejudice, and finally acceptance. This is all achieved without sacrificing character or imagery.”  —JD Jung, Underrated Reads “Don’t let the length of this novella fool you. Michael Phillip Cash is able to pack a big punch into a short amount of pages.  Successfully blending tragic stories of the five spirits...Cash does not disappoint.” —Deanna, The Book Lover’s Attic “A short but mesmerizing tale, this spine tingling test of the human spirit quite literally takes on the ghosts of our ancestors in an attempt to neutralize their mistakes.” —ForeWord Review “This fast paced novella, easily read in one sitting, spins a tale of woe dating back to 1649, when a woman wrongly accused of witchcraft curses the reverend who sentenced her to death. As the years roll by, a number of his descendants fall victim to the curse and find themselves inhabitants of the hanging tree. The story’s greatest strengths are its pacing and structure: Each short chapter develops an individual victim’s back story piece by piece, leaving readers in constant, eager anticipation...” —Kirkus Reviews

www.michaelphillipcash.com About the Author

Available at

Born and raised on Long Island, Michael has always had a love for horror, thriller, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and self-help.  Earning a degree in English and an MBA, he has worked various jobs before settling into being a full-time author.  Michael currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.


Schism: The Battle for Darracia (Book 1)

by Michael Phillip Cash

On the planet Darracia, an everwidening social gap between its inhabitants is causing turmoil that is fracturing a once peaceful world. Struggling with his identity, nineteen year old Prince V’sair must harness the power of the elusive Fireblade, the secret to a warrior’s heart, in order to overcome his uncle Staf Nuen’s lust for supremacy. Will the energy of the Elements guide the young prince to his true destiny or will Staf Nuen conquer Darracia? 

“The writing is smooth and builds nicely; creating an engaging tale with a big bang ending that leaves you thankful it is the beginning of a series. Definitely recommended for fans of dystopian novels in want of a fast page-turning read.”

www.michaelphillipcash.com Available at “This coming-of-age fantasy novel with a subtle sci-fi backdrop follows a half-breed prince who’s forced to embrace his unique identity when his intolerant uncle vehemently set against a looming peace accord between antagonistic races—attempts to usurp his father’s throne...the briskly paced storyline features features a cast of well-developed characters...Well-written...a solid foundation for what could be an excellent series.”  —Kirkus Review

About the Author

—The Children’s Book Review “This dynamic fantasy world is sure to entertain, as political intrigue, family turmoil, and vivid characters drive the plot forward...a fast-paced novel that will appeal to lovers of science fiction and fantasy.  Set on an alien planet, this is a story about social equality and the struggles faced by those seeking great change....The author has crafted a complex society with a well-defined class system facing a political struggle for social equality. This is the first installment of a planned series, and Cash does a fine job laying the groundwork for future books. Schism is a quick, pleasurable read that is sure to entertain.”  —ForeWord

Born and raised on Long Island, Michael has always had a love for horror, thriller, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and self-help.  Earning a degree in English and an MBA, he has worked various jobs before settling into being a full-time author.  Michael currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.


a word from the

editor

I

t’s hard to believe spring is just around the corner, though here in Southern California where I live, it’s been spring since October. While I love sunny weather and going to the beach, I also miss the rainstorms and snow-capped mountains of winter. As a kid I loved the snow. I would bundle up in my robe and slippers to read a good book beside our wood-burning stove. Today my children love reading in bed or in our backyard tent by flashlight. Reading is a fairly solitary activity, something most of us like to do alone. But sometimes it is fun to share a story with a friend who has read it, too. Whenever I read a really great book, the first thing I do is tell everyone I know about it. That’s what we do here at Middle Shelf. We’ve discovered some amazing books and want to share them with you, books like Telsa’s Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman, The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern, and Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas. In addition to some amazing interviews, excerpts and reviews, we also introduce you to Peachtree Publishing, the star of the Sew Zoey series, and Brian Thompson, the talented artist behind Nils Johnson-Shelton’s Otherworld Chronicles. I hope you enjoy exploring the dozens of wonderful new books in this month’s issue, stories you can read alone or with a friend. Laurisa White Reyes editor-in-chief

CLICK HERE to subscribe to Middle Shelf magazine for FREE. Find Middle Shelf on Facebook: www.facebook.com/middleshelfmagazine

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MARCH/APRIL 2014


EMBLAZON Twenty Authors Dozens of Tween Books Creating Thousands of Lifelong Readers

WWW.EMBLAZONERS.COM


reader’s challenge Thank you to everyone who responded to last issue’s Reader’s Challenge: If you could have lunch with a character from any book, who would it be and what food(s) would you eat?

NEW CHALLENGE: What is your favorite or least favorite movie based on a book you’ve read? Give one example of what you like or don’t like about it. Email your response to Laurisa@shelfmediagroup. com no later than April 1st. Selected entries will be published in the May/June issue of Middle Shelf.

“Michael Vey! Pizza!” Jared P. (12 years old) Pleasant Grove, UT

“I would like to meet Hermione Granger from the book Harry Potter. If I were there I would eat Bertie bots every flavor beans and hope I do not get the ear wax ones!” Sarah F. (11 years old) Sacramento, CA 8

MARCH/APRIL 2014


“A fusion of fun awaits you. Let the ‘toons and the rhymes elate you.”

READ-T0-ME EBOOKS & AUDIOBOOKS ~ CARTOON STYLE Irresistible Characters ~ Humorous Adventures ~ Voice Overs & Sound Effects WINNER: Digital Book World’s QED Seal: Quality, Excellence, Design Turn Up The Volume! Read-To-Me Ebooks for Apple and Nook devices bring our cartoon stories to life. Full-size, full-color illustrations and lyrical rhyming fiction make reading entertaining and educational.

Reading Tools That Work: Kids read what interests them, and Salty Splashes cartoons are irresistible. Cartoon artwork grabs their eyes and meaty adventure stories with lots of clever dialogue keep them turning the pages.

Audiobook: Download the whole Trilogy of Adventure, the first three titles, on your Smartphone or mobile device for one hour of convenient entertainment; great for planes, trains and automobiles. To improve reading skills, let kids listen while they read the hardcover books.

Group Viewing: Perfect for Libraries, Classrooms and Assemblies! Connect an Apple device to any HDMI Widescreen Monitor from 40 inches to 40 feet for educational entertainment.*

* Connect iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone to HDMI screen with a Lightning cable from Apple; about $20 US. Standard Ebooks also available, for Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Android and more.

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO SAMPLE

www.saltysplashes.com


“I would love to have pie with Harry Potter.”  Regan F. (8 years old) Marysville, WA

“Fregaly from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. We’d eat hot dogs and jelly beans. But I’d also like to eat lunch with Tris from Divergent. I’d take her to Panda Express for orange chicken.” Brennah R. (11 years old) Saugus, CA

“If I could have lunch with any character, I would eat lunch with Michael Vey. I would eat a banana milkshake with him because in the book bananas are really good for his powers.” Megan G. (12 years old) Santa Clarita, CA

“Nikki Maxwell from The Dork Diaries, and I would eat hot dogs.” Emma K. (8 years old) West Jordan, UT 10

MARCH/APRIL 2014


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feature

author interview

Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman

Tesla’s Attic Book I of the Accelerati Trilogy Disney-Hyperion

Ages 10-14 www.storyman.com www.elfmanworld.com

A

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. Ultimately Nick learns that the genius Nikola Tesla placed the items — his last inventions — in the attic as part of a larger plan that he mathematically predicted. Nick and his new friends must retrieve everything that was sold at the garage sale and keep it safe. But the task is fraught with peril — in addition to the dangers inherent in Tesla’s mysterious and powerful creations, a secret society of physicists, the Accelerati, is determined to stop Nick and alter destiny to achieve its own devious ends. It’s a lot for a guy to handle, especially when he’d much rather fly under the radar as the new kid in town. 12

MARCH/APRIL 2014


NEAL

ERIC

Middle Shelf:  Tell us a little about your new series The Accelerati Trilogy. Eric Elfman: The story begins with a kid who just moved to Colorado Springs, into a house his family inherited. He discovers the attic is full of old junk, antique appliances, rusted stuff. He decides to make the attic his room, so he hauls everything downstairs and has a garage sale.   Neal Shusterman: Then it turns out Nikola Tesla, the great inventor, used to live in that house, and the things in the

attic were his last inventions. Each one has some unique, fantastic, and dangerous property. So now our kid has to get them all back.   Elfman: There’s also a sinister and mysterious group of physicists, the Accelerati, who want to get their hands on Tesla’s inventions for their own dark purposes.   MS: You are both successful authors. Why did you decide to collaborate on Tesla’s Attic ? Shusterman: We have been

friends for a long time, and we’ve pitched and written several screenplays together. This was an idea we came up with and developed together. We’re both fans of Tesla, we have similar senses of humor, and it’s just fun to write together.   Elfman: What Neal said. And it’s fun to have someone you respect to bounce ideas back and forth with. And we enjoy making each other laugh—our bottom line rule is if something one of us says makes the other one laugh, it goes in the book.

“It’s just fun to write together.” 13


A hilarious new companion novel to The Schwa Was Here. Penguin

Ages 10 - 14

MS: What has been the biggest challenge of writing together? Elfman: Sometimes it’s simply scheduling challenges and distance! I used to live relatively close to Neal in Southern California, but last year my wife and I moved to Northern California. So I’ve flown down to Neal or he’s come up to me so we can be in the same room, or we’ll go on weeklong writing retreats to get stuff done.

Shusterman: And we’ve started using GoogleDocs, which is an amazing collaborative tool. No matter where we are, even across the country, we can both be in the same document at the same time. Sometimes we’ll be at the same coffee house, facing each other with our laptops open, so it looks like we’re playing a game of Battleship. Elfman: And GoogleDocs is

fun! Sometimes I’ll watch Neal type a sentence, and then I’ll immediately go in and change what he just wrote, and then he’ll change what I just put, to something better.    MS: And the biggest benefit?  Elfman: The benefit for me is immediate feedback. I’m not working in a vacuum. When I write by myself, if I write something that I think is funny, that’s

“And we’ve started using GoogleDocs, which is an amazing collaborative tool.” 14

MARCH/APRIL 2014


A creepy collection of short stories filled with creepy people, bloodcurdling creatures, and spine-tingling situations. Lowell House Juvenile

Ages 9-12

just my opinion. But if I say it to Neal and he laughs, then I know at least one other person found it humorous.   Shusterman: Or if one of us is taking the story or a character arc down a blind alley, the other one will pull him back. And we keep each other writing. Even if one of us doesn’t feel inspired, the fact that the other person is there forces us both to write.

MS: When will book 2 be dle grade books published this released, and do either of you year and next. have a middle grade book of   your own coming out anytime Shusterman: The third “Antsy Bonano” book, Ship Out of soon? Elfman: The sequel to Tes- Luck, will be out in paperla’s Attic, Edison’s Alley, will back this June.   The next few be released next year, Febru- books I have coming out are ary 2015. In the meantime, I’m young adult: Undivided, the developing a few screenplays, final book of the Unwind Dysand a number of authors I’ve tology, in October; and Chalworked with as a private writ- lenger Deep, which will be out ing coach are having their mid- in early 2015.

“Even if one of us doesn’t feel inspired, the fact that the other person is there forces us both to write.” 15


feature

author interview

The Dragon King: Otherworld Chronicles #3 HarperCollins

Nils Johnson-Shelton

Ages 8-12

www.otherworldchronicles.com

A

rtie Kingfisher, his sister, Kay, and the New Knights of the Round Table have finally reached the legendary isle of Avalon. But before Artie can take his place as King Arthur reborn, he must recover nothing less than the mythical Holy Grail. And as the greatest battle of his life looms, Artie finds himself facing off against the one person he never dreamed he’d be fighting. In The Dragon King, Artie’s life-changing quest comes to a spectacular close as the young king discovers what it truly means to be a hero.

Middle Shelf: Where did you get the idea for Otherworld Chronicles? Johnson-Shelton: I got the idea from a friend. This friend was like: “Dude, why don’t you write a story about a kid who finds out he’s the second coming of King Arthur through his favorite video game?” And I thought, “Yeah, why not?” I was coming off a NY Times bestseller, No Angel, the true story of an undercover ATF agent who

“While writing Otherworld I got to pretend like I was twelve again...” 16

MARCH/APRIL 2014


NILS Xbox for “research” purposes— which was kind of awesome.

infiltrated the Hells Angels, and was looking for something different to write. A children’s fantasy definitely fit that bill. MS: Artie and Kay are brother and sister. How does their friendship affect the stories? Johnson-Shelton: One way to ask this question is how the story affects their friendship. Artie and Kay are that rare sibling pair: They like each other. A lot. For that reason there isn’t very much tension between Artie and Kay—except when Artie sits back and thinks about how much better Kay is at almost everything than he is. MS: What inspired you to write about the myths of King Arthur? Johnson-Shelton: When I was

MS: In The Dragon King Artie and Kay go against someone they once considered a friend. How can their experience help your readers understand true friendship?  Johnson-Shelton: True friends never manipulate one another into helping the other do things, especially if those things might be dangerous or just plain stupid. True friends do need to help Artie’s age I was basically a each other from time to time, but nerd. I spent most of my non- never conditionally. Also, true school time buying and read- friends never lie to one another. ing comic books, playing video games, and religiously working MS: What can we expect from on my Dungeons & Dragons you in the future? characters.  I had also watched Johnson-Shelton: I’m currentMonty Python and the Holy ly working on two projects. The Grail about 133 times. So natu- first is secret—I’m ghostwritrally, I felt like I knew my stuff. ing another memoir that will be The world of Arthur is pretty marketed to adults. The second dang large. There are so many is a collaborative project with twists and betrayals and plots James Frey. Endgame starts in and subplots—not to mention the world in which we live but creatures and monsters and ends in an almost completeentertaining little fairies. While ly destroyed earth. There is a writing Otherworld I got to pre- game at its center, a game that tend like I was twelve again, is played by twelve representaplay video games late into the tives of ancient cultural lines night, and mine hundreds of that for aeons have waited for years of myths for ideas. And Endgame to begin. The winner get paid to do it! It also allowed will inherit the Earth, but if that me justify to my wife the pur- is a favorable outcome is not chase and unabashed use of an clear. Stay tuned … 17


feature

debut author interview

By the Grace of Todd Razorbill

Louise Galveston

Ages 8-12 www.bythegraceoftodd.com

T

welve-year-old Todd’s room borders on Hoarderslevel messy. We’re talking Roomageddon here. When his mom gives him the ultimatum to clean it or miss his best friend Duddy’s birthday bash, Todd makes an amazing discovery: He has created an entire civilization of ant-sized people from the sheer grossness on his filthy sock. The “Toddlians” put their faith in their all-powerful creator, but can the kid who can’t even keep a hermit crab alive save his people from Max Loving, the biggest bully at Wakefield Middle School?

Middle Shelf: Where did you get your inspiration for By the Grace of Todd? Louise Galveston: When I was a girl, I became obsessed with Sea Monkeys. I totally believed they had personalities and named every last one of them. I even wore them to school in a special aquarium pendant necklace! I was the girl always on the lookout for fairies and leprechauns… So when my editor asked if I’d be interested in

“Hearing people laugh, not knowing this very shy girl was the author, sealed it for me. ” 18

MARCH/APRIL 2014


LOUISE writing a story about a kid who finds a civilization on his sock, I jumped at the opportunity!  I have eleven kids, so you might say I preside over a little civilization of my own. (Although none of them are allowed to let their rooms get as messy as Todd’s.)  MS: You claim to be a lover of all things corny. What are your three favorite corny things? Galveston: 1) I love bad puns and jokes that make you groan after the punchline. For example: Recently I produced a theatrical performance about puns. Really it was just a play on words. 2) Parodies: I wrote a play for our children’s theater that involved a cooking show featuring “Paula Bean” and “Julia Chive.” 3) Cornball movies and books: Vordak the Incomprehensible is the absolute funniest thing I’ve read lately.  MS: Your story opens during the funeral of a pet hermit crab named Leonardo da Pinchy. Have you ever owned a hermit crab? Galveston: One of my earliest memories is feeding shredded coconut to a pet hermit crab. I owned several growing up and took excellent care of them (unlike Todd). My dearest wish was to own a pet store or

become a veterinarian. Throughout my childhood I raised cats, dogs, bunnies, mice, hamsters, birds, fish, and even had some mail-order sea horses. I had regular horses, too. My Grandpa was a ranch hand, and I was pretty much raised in the saddle.

the author, sealed it for me. (That and winning the contest!) But I didn’t realize I wanted to try to get published until I’d had several children [of my own].

MS: Will your next book be funny too? Galveston: I’m writing the MS: When did you decide to sequel to By the Grace of Todd right now. It’s even funnier than become a writer? Galveston: I wrote a scary the first book because Todd story for a class English contest gets his first major crush. All in ninth grade. Only, I couldn’t kinds of awkwardness ensues make it scary, so I parodied a as he tries to win the new girl horror story instead. We had at school. Todd joins the swim to vote on the stories after  the team, and there is plenty of teacher read her top picks  out action involving the Toddlians, loud. Hearing people laugh, not who build an ark to go in search knowing this very shy girl was of a more responsible deity. 19


themed books: extraordinary friendships

Karmack J.C. Whyte MuseItUp Publishing www.karmack.webs.com

Ages 10 - 14

E

veryone knows Curtis “Sully” Sullenburg is the toughest kid at Higgins Elementary. For years, he and his gang have tormented students and teachers alike with their pranks. And for the most part, they’ve gotten away with it. But all that changes when a strange little creature appears on the scene. His name is Karmack.

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MARCH/APRIL 2014

Monster School: City of Monsters, Book I DC Green Ford Street Publishing www.fordstreetpublishing.com

Ages 10+

P

T, the Swamp Boy, is terrified. During his first class at Monster School, mafia goblins threaten to murder him. He is saved … by the meanest monsters in school. Now PT is really sweating. If the Dead Gang learns his secret, he’ll spin on a kebab stick before recess. Imagine what will happen if the dragon finds out!


extraordinary friendships

Grimmtastic Glitter Girl Girls: Toni Runkle and Cinderella Stephen Webb Stays Late Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams Scholastic www.joanholub.com www.suzanne-williams.com

Ages 8 – 12

C

inderella is starting her first week at Grimm Academy on the wrong foot. Cinda’s totally evil stepsisters are out to make her life miserable. But when Cinda overhears the Steps plotting a villainous deed that could ruin Prince Awesome’s ball, Cinda, her new friends, and a pair of magical glass slippers have to stop them—before the last stroke of midnight!

Sourcebooks www.runklewebb.com

Ages 10 – 14

F

orty-eight hours after Kat 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?

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themed books: extraordinary friendships

When Audrey Met Alice

Ava and Pip

Rebecca Behrens

Sourcebooks www.carolweston.com

Sourcebooks http://rebeccabehrens.com

Ages 10 -12

Ages 9 – 12

L

iving in the White House is like being permanently grounded. Only with tighter security. When First Daughter Audrey Rose discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary, the White House will never be the same. Because Audrey stops being the perfect “First Daughter” and starts asking herself... What Would Alice Do?

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MARCH/APRIL 2014

Carol Weston

O

utgoing Ava loves her older sister, Pip, but can’t understand why Pip is so reserved and never seems to make friends with others. When Ava uses her writing talents to help her sister overcome her shyness, both girls learn the impact their words and stories can have on the world around them.


extraordinary friendships

Dream on, Amber

The Dry

Emma Shevah

Skipjack Publishing http://skipjackpublishing.com

Chicken House http://doublecluck.com

Ages 7+

S

he’s Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto (as if the name makes up for her being tiny!) Amber is half Japanese and half Italian, and is starting a new school with a caveman phone. But the hardest thing about being Amber is that a big part of her is missing. Her dad. He left when she was little and if he isn’t coming back, she’ll have to find a way to make it up to her little sister. And Amber has a BIG imagination …

Rebecca Nolen

Ages 10 - 14

A

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-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.

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excerpts

COOL READS FOR

1

2

3

MYSTERY

FANTASY

HISTORICAL 24

MARCH/APRIL 2014

COOL

KIDS Find your next favorite book right here.

4

HUMOR

5

6

CONTEMPORARY

MULTI-CULTURAL


1

mystery

Ages 8-12 Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis Candlewick Press | www.timmyfailure.com

A

ll right, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. My name is Failure. Timmy Failure. I look like this:

My family name was once Fayleure. But somebody changed it. Now it is spelled as you see. I’d ask that you get your “failure” jokes out of the way now. I am anything but. I am the founder, president, and CEO of the detective agency I have named for myself: Failure, Inc. Failure, Inc. is the best detective agency in the town, probably the state. Perhaps the nation. The book you are holding is a historical record of my life as a detective. It has been rigorously fact-checked. All the drawings in here are by me. I tried to get my business partner to do the illustrations, but they were not good. For example, here is his depiction of me:

1. my mother 2. my school 3. my idiot best friend 4. my polar bear And yes, I’m sure you have the same I have decided to publish this history question everyone else does when I list because my expertise is invaluable to any- these obstacles. Why am I best friends with one who ever wanted to be a detective. Just an idiot? I’ll get to it later. Oh, and I supread the reviews: pose I should say a word about the fifteenhundred-pound polar bear. Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. Copyright © 2013 by Stephan Pastis. Reproduced by perBut success did not come overnight for mission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerme. I had to overcome obstacles. Like these: ville, MA.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS 25


2

fantasy

Ages 8-12 Faery Swap by Susan Kaye Quinn www.susankayequinn.com

S

omething scampered on all fours across the tops of Stonehenge, as if it was a giant hamster trail. The thing beat Finn to the opening and jumped down to block his path. The creature was the ugliest thing Finn had ever seen. The size of an oversized cat; its body was like a giant wrinkled prune, and its head—at least Finn thought it was a head— was just a small pile of rocks held together with mud, grass, and the occasional twig. This was an epic dream. Finn thought it was ugly until it spoke… then it was hideous. Its eyes were just holes. A slit between the rocks wrinkled up a layer of slimy mud that lined its mouth. Finn didn’t want to call them lips. “Think you can just walks in to the sacred circle, do you?” it asked. “Dude . . .” Finn’s voice squeaked. “What are you?” “We are spriggan, you fool.” The spriggan hopped closer. “And we are not a what. Minds your manners! We are a who, and the who we are is Pyx.” “Pyx.” Finn tried to calm the disgusting creature. “Pyx is a very nice name.” A smile moved the rocks. Then the spriggan took a step back and preened the bits of grass and mud with long stringy hands made from tree roots. “Well, now. That is better. Pyx is the very finest of names, if we say so ourselves. Very fine. And a fine name promises of great fame.”

Finn laughed, although it was kind of strangled because he tried to kill it on the way out. The spriggan wasn’t fooled. “What are you laughing at, human!” Its lumpy eyes turned fiery red. Finn put his hands in front of him. “I, um… was just laughing at… the great rhyme you made.” Faery Swap. Copyright © 2013 by Susan Kaye Quinn. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Susan Kaye Quinn.

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I am your best beachcombing, fun-filled Take me to the beach. Solve mysteries from your exploration on the activity book. Tide is out when you start your adventure. Return live beach. Collect seashells to fill your sea creatures to their natural habitat. Bring the whole family to share this cool activity. treasure chest.

Purchase books through:

www.annehotchkis.com

www.authorhouse.com 9


3

historical

Ages 9-12 The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas Sleeping Bear Press | www.sleepingbearpress.com

I

looked up, my mouth open. They wouldn’t leave me with Grandma Mouse, would they? When Ma saw the look on my face, she said she was only joking. “I wouldn’t leave you. I love you as much as a wagon train of people,” she whispered. Then she told Pa, “Perhaps you could leave off some of the fancy lumber.” “We need it. How will we build the business block without it?” Pa glanced around the room at the boxes of foodstuffs that had not yet been loaded into the wagon. And then his eyes lit on the horsehair trunk, which had come from Grandma Mouse, her initials, EB, on the top, done in brass nails. She had given it to Ma for the journey, saying it would be mine one day, because EB were two of my initials, Emily Bluestone. “The trunk,” Pa said. “It will have to be left behind.” “It has our clothes in it.” Pa thought a moment. “Meggie…,” he said. Ma looked at him as if she knew what he was about to say. “No, Thomas,” she said. “Not our clothes.” Pa looked away, then said, “You can take only the clothes you wear. There is no room for a trunk, no room for your clothes.” “But Thomas—” “I have decided, Meggie.” Ma closed her eyes and took a deep breath, but she did not reply. She knew better than to argue with Pa when his mind

was made up. “Ma,” I asked later. “Does that mean I can take only one dress?” Ma did not answer. Instead, she opened the trunk and looked at the clothes neatly folded inside. “No, Emmy Blue, it does not.” She slammed shut the trunk lid. “I have an idea, but we will not tell your pa. It will be a surprise.” The Quilt Walk. Copyright © 2013 by Sandra Dallas. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

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4

humor

Ages 8-12

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Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles: Fish Finelli, Book I by E.S. Farber Chronicle Books | www.facebook.com/fishfinelli

t all started the morning I broke into my lobster piggy bank. I had chosen a basin wrench for the job. It’s a good tool for a delicate operation. I know this because my dad is a plumber and taught me lots of stuff about tools. CLINK! CLINK! I shook the lobster a few times. It sure sounded like there was a lot of money in there. I hoped it was at least $54.53. That was exactly how much I needed to buy the Seagull. In case you’re wondering, the seagull I’m talking about isn’t the aquatic bird. It’s one of the finest motor boat engines ever made. And I had to get it soon. See, I’ve been fixing up this boat with my best friends, Roger and T.J. We want to race it in the Captain Kidd Classic, the biggest boat race of the summer. I held the lobster bank with my fingers over the part on the shell that read LobsterPalooza—Where Lobsters Rock! The LobsterPalooza festival happens every summer in the town of Whooping Hollow where I live. I won the lobster bank for bringing in a blue lobster I caught with my Uncle Norman. Only one in about three million lobsters is blue, by the way. I put the gripper end of the wrench into the Lobster-Palooza lobster’s pincer claw. I pulled gently. Nothing happened, so I pulled a little harder. CRACK! The pincer claw snapped off.

Money flew up in the air. PLOP! Dimes and pennies landed in the fishbowl. Nikola Tesla, my goldfish, started swimming around like crazy. As I was fishing the coins out of Nikola Tesla’s bowl, I heard a scream. “Help! Ugly-Buggly!” “Fish!” my mom called up the stairs. “Help your sister, please. I’m baking!” Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles: Fish Finelli, Book I. Copyright © 2014 by E.S. Farber. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

COOL READS FOR COOL KIDS

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5

contemporary

Ages 8-12 A Song For Bijou by Josh Farrar Walker & Company | www.farrarbooks.com

“W

ow, Alex, you’re so into this girl, it’s almost scary,” Nomura says. “You’re more into girls than I am into horror movies,” Ira says. “We’re in seventh grade. Isn’t that normal?” I ask. “Maybe, but it seems like girls have completely taken over your life. Like it’s the most important thing, ever.” Instead of saying that girls are the most important thing ever, I say, “Please, they haven’t taken over anything.” “I’m not so sure about that. Let’s say you were given the choice between losing us as your best friends and getting to know this girl. What would you choose?” “He’d choose us, obviously,” Ira says, looking at Nomura. Then to me, “Wouldn’t you?” “I would gladly never talk to my own sister again in exchange for a girlfriend,” I reply, “if that’s what you mean.” “No, I’m serious,” Nomura says. “Would you choose a girl over us?” “Of course not,” I say. “How could you ask that?” And I mean it. Nomura is my best friend. And Ira is awesome, too. I would never do anything to hurt them, even if the hottest supermodel in the world were on her knees, begging me to be her husband. “Are you sure?” Nomura asks. “Because when you talk about girls, you get this glazed look in your eyes, like one of Ira’s

zombies. You’re not going to do us in, are you?” Ira sticks his arms out like one of the undead and pretends to take a bite of my arm flesh. “Knock it off,” I say. But then, seriously, “No way. Not a chance.” “Even for Angela Gudrun?” Ira asks. A Song For Bijou. Copyright © 2014 by Josh Farrar. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Walker & Company, New York, NY.

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When Sarah Alleg r a Mag Laughe risso Selected and i as a 20 d 13 Fina llustra

Written b y

M

list for ted by B sponso the Na eth Shadur red by t i o nal Jewis the Jew h Book Awar ish Boo d k Counc il.

any people are familiar with the Bible story of Abraham and Sarah. Much more than a simple retelling, When Sarah Laughed, a children’s picture book for children from 4 to 10 years old, artfully combines a spiritual love of prayer with the very human and at times even humorous dialogue between Abraham and Sarah. Rabbi Suzanne B. Griffel says, “This beautifully illustrated book introduces young children to the characters of Abraham and Sarah and teaches about the cosmic power of joy and laughter, all with a light and gentle touch.” Reverend Susan Martersteck states, “The first time I read When Sarah Laughed, tears came to my eyes. Tears of joy rose from a deep belief that God wants us to laugh and find joy in the world. Children of all ages and faith traditions will delight in this story of gratitude and joy.” Linda Wolf, publisher of Network Publishing Partners comments, “I felt the joy of living and loving in this story, and the gorgeous artwork blazed this message across the pages. I love the author’s tender storytelling style. It presents a gentle kindness toward all of God’s creation and especially toward children, that makes this book not only inspirational and reverent, but sweetly comforting. I can think of no better way to end the day with a child you love than by sitting down to enjoy this book together.” When Sarah Laughed is available through Amazon.com and through the website.

www.allegramagrisso.com


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multi-cultural

Ages 10+ Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance Dundurn | www.dundurn.com

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y the end of the first term Red Wolf had made a transition in language. Instead of translating English to Anishnaabemowin in his head, he now thought in English. He was stunned when he woke up one morning and realized that his dream had even been in English. He understood most of the instructions he was given throughout the day and many of the words in the lessons, although the concepts were confusing, especially in the religious studies classes. And due to the code of silence that was enforced for so much of the day, he had limited his opportunity to practice speaking the new language. It was a school tradition that the Grade One class performed the pageant on Christmas Eve. Red Wolf didn’t understand what it was all about. Weeks ahead of time, Master Evans picked children to play the different roles. He chose the smallest boy in the class to be Mary. The boy was dressed in a blue robe and wore a sheet draped over his head, tied with a cord so it flowed over his shoulders and back. Master Evans announced that the biggest boy in the class would play the part of Joseph, but then changed his mind when he realized that Henry was the biggest boy. He gave the Joseph costume to the second biggest boy instead. Henry was not in the play, at least not dressed up as an actor. He had a special job as Master Evans’ assistant, working behind the scenes.

The three best boys in the class were selected as wise men. Their outfits were colourful and grand, with trailing cloaks, sparkling necklaces, and shiny crowns covered in glass beads. Red Wolf wished he were a wise man. He couldn’t stop wondering what gifts were inside the carved wooden boxes they carried. Red Wolf. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Dance. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Dundurn, Toronto, ONT.

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A touching children’s book about divorce, recovery, a parent’s love and the spirit of hope. www.bearsflower.com 855.310.6145

"Divorce is difficult and traumatic, especially for children. It is so important for them to know...they are and always will be loved”. Author, Kerry Mc Gill

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UNDER THE

COVERS with Brian Thompson

http://brianthompson.carbonmade.com

B

rian Thompson is the art director of Big Fish, a video game developer in Seattle, Washington. He is also the cover artist for Nils Johnson-Shelton’s fantasy series Otherworld Chronicles. After attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Brian pursued his lifelong interest in stories and illustrating. Follow Middle Shelf Under the Covers as we explore Brian’s stunning artwork.

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I loved to draw as a kid. It was my favorite thing to do, second only to exploring and running around outside with my brother, Todd, and my dog, Scruffy. I think it was my crazy imagination that has really been the driving force for my art and was the reason I gravitated to it early on. Luckily my parents were very supportive of my art interests. In school I was really interested in so many things and took quite a while deciding on art as my career. I love books and movies and storytelling, and I studied the way people have told stories over time. 35


I generally start by doing a variety of quick pencil sketches to get some ideas down. I pick the best ones and then move into Adobe Photoshop. I paint digitally using a Wacom tablet. The original sketch is kept while I work up value and refine shapes in grayscale before starting on color. 36

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Nils is a great author, and his scenes are full of vivid imagery, color and texture. I tried to capture the action-filled moments that Nils so beautifully describes in the series. In addition to the book, I am inspired by many artists and illustrators from traditional painters, comic book and film artists, to other book illustrators. 37


My first book containing both cover art and interior illustrations will be out in April 2014. It is a fantastic book called The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky published by Walden Pond Press.

On Otherworld Chronicles I worked very closely with the art director, Alison Donalty. I remember when working on the Invisible Tower cover, I just had the dragon’s body arching across the top of the image. Alison suggested I make the head come back into frame looking at Artie and Kay in the boat. That was such a great call. It is hard to imagine the cover design without that key element.

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DORINE WHITE

cleopatra’s legacy

Book I:

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

Book II:

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

WWW.DORINEWHITE.COM


nonfiction Ages 7-11

100 Inventions That Made History DK Publishing http://us.dk.com

A

pplying engaging, innovative design and fun, informative text, 100 Inventions That Made History looks at the trailblazing inventions that have advanced technology and transformed the way we live, as well as the gadgets and gizmos that we couldn’t live without! Divided into five chapters — On the Move, Getting Connected, Ordinary Things, For Better or Worse, and Culture Shock — all areas of inventions are covered as well as showcasing the inspirational people who brought them to life. From antibiotics to the atomic bomb, microscopes to the microwave, and wind turbines to the World Wide Web, 100 Inventions That Made History is a discovery not to be missed. Supports the Common Core State Standards.

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graphic novel

Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Random House Children’s Books www.studiojjk.com

Ages 8-12

I

nspired by his own childhood school lunch superhero, Jean J. Cariglia, picture book author and artist Jarrett J. Krosoczka created this brilliant, entertaining graphic novel series. With a hilarious premise—the adventures of a school lunch lady who fights crime when she’s not serving sloppy joes and the ragtag group of kids called the Breakfast Bunch who become embroiled in her crusade— Krosoczka’s 10–book series serves up a picture-perfect combination of humor and adventure with smart yet silly plot lines, funky gadgets, and a

comical cast of characters. In the 10th and final installment, Lunch Lady and Betty have been unceremoniously cut from the school budget, and the timing couldn’t be worse—the villains from all nine of her previous adventures are worming their way back into Thompson Brook with a masterfully devious plan. Will the Breakfast Bunch still be able to count on Lunch Lady’s superhero gadgets and abilities to save the school, or are they on their own? Don’t miss Lunch Lady’s swashbuckling finale!

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novelty book

Ages 8+

B

uild Your Own Website Adventure is a fun, beginner-friendly introduction to the basics of designing a website. This cartoon tale shows you how to get a site up and running using WordPress and your newfound knowledge of HTML and CSS. As you follow the illustrated adventures of Kim and her dog, Tofu, you’ll slay 404-error dragons and learn helpful tips from the Web Guru’s HTML scrolls and Glinda, the Good Witch of CSS. This book is a perfect starting point for that precocious kid eager to make their mark on the web, tech-phobic adults who need a nonthreatening guide, or creative types who have lots of great design ideas but get a little queasy at the sight of HTML. Build Your Own Website Adventure makes getting started with Web design easy and fun, and it will unlock the keys to the Internet for a host of eager beginners. 42

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Build Your Own Website Adventure by Nate Cooper No Starch Press www.nostarch.com/websiteadventure


BOOK The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer by Lisa Orchard

A

n innocent game of Truth or Dare spins out of control when fifteen-year-old Sarah stumbles upon the corpse of a woman. The police discover her at the crime scene along with her sister Lacey and her friend Jackie. Taken into custody and accused of the crime, the girls decide to form the Super Spies and start their own investigation. Can they snare the Cat Lady Killer before it’s too late? FACEBOOK LINK TWITTER LINK www.lisaorchard.com Available at Astraea Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Karmark by J.C. Whyte

“I

REALLY LIKE THIS STORY! It’s not a fairy tale nor a myth but a fun and amusing adventure that reminds us that what goes around comes around...eventually...and sometimes with an even mightier THUNK than when the initial ‘hurt’ was carried out. A wonderful read that will entice readers of all ages, both male and female.” —Gina, Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers www.karmack.webs.com Available now in most ebook stores; coming to paperback soon! Available at Muse It Up Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Omnilit, and Bookstrand.

Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick

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welve-year-old Jasmine wants to be an artist. But, can she escape the shadow of her artistic father to discover her own path as a glass artist? Stained Glass Summer is a 2013 EPIC Award Finalist in Children’s Fiction. A free study guide is available at Mindy Hardwick’s website. www.mindyhardwick.com Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Musa Publishing. My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain by Rich Samuels

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hirteen year-old Alexander’s fear of bullies is as extreme as it can get. He’s ready for possible disaster around every corner. When one boy asks to see him after school, he prepares for the worst. … But what if he’s wrong? “Witty...Entertaining...A valuable addition to bullying literature.” —Kirkus Reviews www.richsamuelsauthor.com Available in paperback and e-book from all popular online retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple/iBooks.


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

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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. www.theartamalegend.com 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.

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www.tyrolinpuxty.com Available at Amazon.

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

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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. www.tayabaylissbooks.com, www.ejgore.net Available at Amazon. Dark Entities by R. Scott Campbell

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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 www.rscottcampbell.ca Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters and Indigo.


BOOK Penny Dreadful and the Horrible Hoo Hah by Joanna Nadin

Victory on the Homefront by D.S. Grier

A

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

fter being ostracized thanks to the school bully, Les spends time dissecting a dead cat in his secret science lab, scaling the attic roof, and tapping phone lines, which seems like a great idea until the FBI comes calling. It’s time for Les to go, so he plans his escape.

www.usborne.com Available at Amazon.

www.facebook.com/DSGrier.Author Available at Amazon.

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Time Trapped by Richard Ungar

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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. www.penguingroup.com 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.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


character spotlight

Ages 8-12 Sew Zoey by Chole Taylor Illustrated by Nancy Zhang Simon Spotlight http://pages.simonandschuster.com/sewzoey

O

ver the summer, fashion-loving Zoey Webber gets the best news ever: Her middle school is getting rid of uniforms! There’s just one problem. Zoey has sketchbooks full of fashion designs, but nothing to wear! So with a little help from her best friends Kate and Priti, she learns to make her own clothes. She even begins to post her fashion design sketches online in a blog. That’s how the Sew Zoey blog begins, and soon it becomes much more.

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Middle Shelf: Hi, Zoey, and welcome to Middle Shelf. What prompted you to start your own blog? Zoey: Hi, and thanks for having me! It started when I found out that we wouldn’t have to wear uniforms at school anymore. It was the first time my friends and I got to go backto-school shopping together! But I didn’t really find what I was looking for at the mall. That’s when I showed my sketches of made-up outfits to my friends. Priti thought I should post the sketches online. Kate came up with the name “Sew Zoey,” which is funny, because usually I’m the “punny” one in the group!

Zoey: It’s so hard to choose! I love the dresses I’ve made for Kate, even though she’s more into sports than clothes. And I loved making a sari for Priti to wear to her cousin’s wedding in India. It’s been fun making outfits for other people and coming up with clothes that match their personalities.

in my sewing or blog or anything—I just wanted to make my own clothes. It’s hard to juggle schoolwork and sewing, and deal with how people react to my blog becoming more well-known (not always positively).

MS: When does the next Sew Zoey book come out? MS: In your newest book, Zoey: Cute as a Button, about Stitches and Stones, you my doggie clothing project, tackle cyber-bullying. just came out in January. A What advice can you give Tangled Thread comes out in to other kids who face March. Then Knot Too Shabby in June and Swatch Out! similar problems? Zoey: Do not keep things to in August. Guess I better sign yourself. I made that mistake off and get sketching or I’ll at first because I thought I never keep up! could handle it on my own, or that I was being too sensitive, MS: How do your friends or that it would stop by itself. Kate, Priti and Libby play And I didn’t want to tell my dad because I thought he’d into your book series? Zoey: They’re a huge part make me stop blogging. The of my life, so the books are second I told my friend Kate, almost as much about them though, I felt a bazillion times as about me. Maybe we better. And she encouraged should change the title to me to tell a grown-up, which Sew Zoey and Friends? Kate, is when things really began Priti, and Libby are practi- to improve. cally like my three sisters. Even though we have ups MS: What do you think and downs, we are 100% has been your biggest there for each other, no mat- challenge as an aspiring ter what. I wouldn’t survive young designer? middle school without them! Zoey: I think the biggest challenge is the pace of MS: What sewing project everything. I didn’t expect to get so much interest has been your favorite? 47


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.

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Dagger Quick by Brian Eames

www.brianeames.com Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books [Review] Dagger Quick is an excellent book. I was really astonished on how it had the perfect transition from everyday life to an extraordinary adventure. Kitto, an English boy who lives in a small town called Falmouth, experiences a painful encounter. Kitto’s father, Frederic, was brutally murdered, and Kitto has nowhere to go. Armed with only a dagger which his father gave him the night before he died, Kitto goes off to find the treasure that will change his life. Because he has no other place to go, he joins his uncle, Captain William Quick, to live life as a sailor. What will happen? Will Kitto be slaughtered by the same murderers that killed his father? Or will he escape the cold-blooded killers and live to be the richest boy around? Enjoyed Dagger Quick and can’t wait to read the sequel, Dagger X!


LARA’S reads

Ages 8-12 The Meaning of Maggie

by Megan Jean Sovern

http://meganjeansovern.com Chronicle Books [Review] Eleven-year-old Maggie wants to make a difference. She desperately wants to help her dad fix his paralysis caused by a disease that Maggie doesn’t understand. This book is a wonderful short read about the meaning of her life. And while everything in Maggie’s world is falling apart, she finds a way to pull herself together by pulling up her “boot straps” (the family motto) no matter what is really going on.   I usually don’t read sad novels, but this one was awesome, amazing, and wonderful! If I had to give an award to a sad and funny story, it would be this one. The author has done a great job of mixing opposite emotions in a story.  What I love about the main character, Maggie, is that she is someone all kids can relate to.  She is a typical pre-teen who is smart and nerdy. I loved this book and highly recommend it. 

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:

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Peachtree Publishers

publisher’s corner

http://peachtree-online.com

A visit with

Margaret M. Quinlin,

President of Peachtree

How Peachtree Got Started

Peachtree was founded in 1977 by Helen Elliott, a music teacher who also produced print materials, like songbooks, for music educators. She was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-1970s. While in recovery, she decided to do something she always wanted to do: start a publishing company focused on the American South. She died about five years after establishing Peachtree, but she did indeed create something that had great potential to live on. Following her death in 1983, Helen’s children and husband assumed control of the company. I came to Peachtree in 1988 as Executive Editor. In June 1990, I became president 50

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A book will show you what it wants to be, if you work with it and nurture it along. —Helen Elliott

and publisher of Peachtree Pub- editor, who is also Vice Presilishers. dent and Associate Publisher; Vicky Holifield, our Senior Editor, who is the one we all turn to for How Peachtree her keen editorial judgments and Got Its Name Apparently Helen Elliott’s hus- language skills, and Stephanie band proposed the title, light- Fretwell Hill, a talented young heartedly. Helen liked it, and so editor with a rights background. the name became Peachtree I also do some editorial work. Publishers. In Atlanta, there is Our Creative Director, Nicki Carno more prominent name than mack, is responsible for the look Peachtree. Peachtree Street is of Peachtree, both our books Atlanta’s equivalent of Fifth Ave- and marketing efforts. Senior nue in New York City, or Michigan Art Director Loraine Joyner has Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent been responsible for the artisMile. As a name for a publisher, I tic development of our books, especially picture books, for think Peachtree is just right. several decades. Loraine, Kathy, Vicky, our production director The People Melanie McMahon Ives, and I Behind the Books Our editorial staff consists of have worked together for over Kathy Landwehr, a very talented twenty years. We are a collab-


orative group. We don’t always agree with each other—a good thing often— but we have a commitment to create great books and a rich history that we can call upon with each new project that we begin together.

books to check out

Current and Future Middle Grade Releases.

We love middle grade books! And we have a wonderful group of talented authors working in this age group. Adrian Fogelin is the author of Crossing Jordan and seven other middle grade novels, including Summer on the Moon, which will be released in paperback this spring. Leslie Bulion has three novels and one original poetry collection—At the Sea Floor Café. Krista Russell is a very promising author who just released her second, well reviewed historical fiction novel called The Other Side of Free. One of our significant successes of late is Cynthia Levinson’s We’ve Got a Job. The book weaves the narrative of the 1964 children’s march in Birmingham, Alabama, through the stories of four of the participants. Bill Harley is a very popular children’s storyteller and musician (two-time Grammy winner) and the author of a new series called Charlie Bumpers Versus. Charlie Bumpers vs The Really Nice Gnome is scheduled for April 2014 publication.

Summer on the Moon by Adrian Fogelin Peachtree Press ages 8 – 12

A

move from an impoverished tenement to an unfinished suburban development turns thirteenyear-old Socko’s world inside out. “By skillfully combining suspense, humor and heart, Fogelin has created a pageturner that should not only be read, but shared.”

Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome by Bill Harley Illustrated by Adam Gustavson Peachtree Press ages 8 – 12

C

harlie Bumpers has his heart set on playing the role of the evil Sorcerer in the fourth grade play. He’s even got the laugh down pat: Mwaha-ha-ha! But his dreams of villainous stardom go up in smoke when he finds out that Mrs. Burke has cast him as —Children’s Literature the Nice Gnome! Determined Review to rectify this terrible injustice, Charlie concocts one plan after another, but nothing seems to work.

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best

of the book blogs

The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson Random House Children's Books Review by

GEO LIBRARIAN

Ages 10-14

E

el, a young orphan who spends all his free time working to protect a valuable secret from the likes of Fisheye Bill Tyler, finds himself distracted when his neighborhood gets hit by cholera. Eel makes for a very appealing main character; he has a remarkably positive attitude considering the difficult circumstances he faces.   The secondary characters are also fun to read about, and it was easy to care about them, even the ones who made just a brief appearance.  Eel’s friend, Florrie, is especially likable. Plotwise, the story moves along at a nice clip, beautifully integrating Eel’s personal difficulties with

those of the disease-ridden neighborhood. The mystery was intriguing, even though I already knew the answer, it was interesting to read about how the characters got there.  I especially appreciated the author’s explanations at the end about her adjustments to the time table and details about the historical characters. I always find myself fascinated by stories about people that make a difference in the world in relatively quiet ways.  Dr. John Snow’s discoveries continue to impact the world today, and I enjoyed reading about it. A very readable, enjoyable story with enough action and detail to satisfy most readers. Highly recommended.

MIDDLE SHELF’S BEST OF THE BLOGS AWARDS

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

BEST OF THE BLOGS AWARD 2014 52

MARCH/APRIL 2014

ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE BECKY’S BOOK REVIEWS BOYS RULE! BOYS READ!

CARNIVAL OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE MIDDLE GRADE MAFIASO


Five! Six! Seven! Nate! by Tim Federle Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Review by

WALKING BRAIN CELLS

T

his sequel to Better Nate Than Ever is one of the strongest second books in a series I have read.  After getting cast as ET in ET: The Musical, Nate is now living in New York City with his aunt who is also an actress.  But Broadway isn’t everything that Nate has dreamed it would be.  Federle writes in a way that is so easy to read and creates books that are impossible to put down until the final curtain falls. Add in Nate’s questioning his sexual identity and you have a book with plenty of depth. What Federle does best is to create characters who

Ages 10-13 surprise and delight.  Nate himself captures this.  Nate could come off as a stereotypical actor, but instead because the book is in first person, Nate reveals all of his inner dialogue, much of which is screamingly funny.  But Nate is not the only deep character here.  Even tertiary characters are interesting and offer glimpses of how unique they are.  Among the secondary characters, there are many who would make great books all on their own.  Federle is a master of creating characters and making us care for them. Bravo!  This is a smash production filled with humor and delight. 

>>>>To nominate your favorite blog, email Laurisa@shelfmediagroup.com MOTHER DAUGHTER BOOK REVIEWS MS. YINGLING READS PROJECT MAYHEM RAMBLINGS OF A WANNABE SCRIBE SHARON THE LIBRARIAN

SWEET ON BOOKS THIS KID REVIEWS BOOKS THE BOOK MONSTERS THE WRITE PATH WORD SPELUNKING 53


on our shelf

Caminar by Skila Brown

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Candlewick

Dial

http://skilabrown.com

www.lauramarxfitzgerald.com

S

heo didn’t mean to spill rubbing alcohol on her favorite painting. But when she does, when she first sees the little bit of the painting hidden under it, her entire life changes. Though at times I found the plot to be pretty farfetched, Fitzgerald somehow makes it believable that a twelve-year-old girl could find a Renaissance painting above her fireplace; there is enough actual chemistry and history included to make any reader want to search their own homes in hopes of finding something just as magnificent as Theo does. Likable characters and fun art and museum facts make this book a sure hit with any middle grade reader who loved Chasing Vermeer and any adult fans of The Da Vinci Code.

ages 10 -13

oldiers warn Carlos’ village about the Communist rebels and then leave a man hanging in a tree. Separated from his mother, Carlos journeys with a band of guerillas to the mountains where his grandmother lives. This lyrical novel about a boy facing Communist rebels in 1981 Guatemala is a story worth reading. Though told in a one-sided perspective (the Guatemalan civil war was complex and harrowing for both sides), Caminar provides a vivid and sometimes disturbing view of what it is like to live in the midst of war. Through varied forms and the use of Spanish, Brown’s poetry explores the struggles and culture of the Guatemalan people.

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ages 8 – 12

T


Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger

Luminescence by Braden Bell

NewSouth, Inc.

Cedar Fort

www.olswanger.com

www.bradenbell.com

ages 10 - 14

W

hen Daniel, a young Holocaust survivor, arrives at a New York yeshiva, the other boys wonder what is in the little box he so fiercely protects. This is a very short volume, but Greenhorn is a story you won’t soon forget. Inspired by actual events, the story is told with tenderness and is meant to remind us all of the horrors perpetrated on the Jews and others by the Nazis, hopefully so that the world will never let that happen again. Despite its length, Greenhorn deserves a permanent spot alongside other Holocaust books like Diary of Anne Frank, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Boy Who Dared.

ages 8 – 12

I

n this thrilling conclusion to the Middle School Magic trilogy we find out the fate of the beloved Dr. Timberi. While the rest of the magi believe him to be dead, Conner, Lexa and Melanie are sure he is alive and being held captive by the evil Lady Nightwing. The tension is strong as our heroic trio turn against their leaders and befriend The Stalker, who once tried to kill them. They head off on a near impossible journey into the center of the Darkhands’ power. Their journey teaches them the true meaning of personal sacrifice and love. Filled with humor and adventure, this book will hook the reader and bring the story of our trio full circle.

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poetry

What a Way to Start the Day Things haven't started well, alarm clock didn't ring. I didn't get my homework done. I haven't done a thing. I'm sure by now I've missed the bus, my life's in disarray. On top of that I'm late for school. Oh wait, it's Saturday. Swimming to the Moon by Jeff McMahon Leisure Time Press www.leisuretimepress.com

Ages 8+

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Dilemma Bud said, "I'll eat anything, what should it be?" so I dared him to swallow a dollar and I gave him the change that I had in my pants and he smiled and he loosened his collar. And he measured the coins into three little stacks and he placed them in line on his tongue and in one fancy slurp he just sucked them all down. Quite impressive for someone so young. And Bud smiled the smile of someone who knew he had clearly impressed the small crowd, and he topped it all off with a fifty cent burp, very classy and not very loud. Now I said eat a dollar, but Bud really ate more like $1.25 or about, and I'd like the refund of the difference except I'm afraid where the change will come out.

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LAST WORDS

Every girl needs a dear friend, as much for sharing secrets as for sharing in mischief.

— from When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens

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march/april 2014

contributors BEHRENS, REBECCA Rebecca earned her Master’s degree in comparative literature from CUNY and is a production editor for children’s books. When Audrey Met Alice is her debut novel.

FARRAR, JOSH Josh Farrar started writing fiction after spending ten years at companies like LeapFrog and Scholastic where he designed software for kids.

BROWN, SKILA Former elementary school teacher and mother of three boys, Skila Brown holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Caminar is her first published novel.

FITZGERALD, LAURA MARX Laura Fitzgerald attended Harvard and Cambridge Universities. Under the Egg is her first published novel. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

COOPER, NATE Nate Cooper is an adjunct professor at The School of Visual Arts in New York City and a computer instructor. How To Build A Website Adventure is his first published book. DALLAS, SANDRA New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty books, Sandra Dallas began her writing career as a reporter for Business Week. She and her husband live in Georgetown, Colorado. DANCE, JENNIFER Canadian author, Jennifer Dance, was born in England and grew up in Trinidad. Her books are inspired by her first-hand experience with the violence of racism and her desire for equality and justice. EAMES, BRIAN Brian Eames teaches 5th & 6th grade at the Paideia School in Atlanta where he lives with his wife and three sons. Dagger Quick and Dagger X are his first published novels. ELFMAN, ERIC Writing coach, Eric Elfman, is the author of ten books for children including The Very Scary Almanac, The Almanac of the Gross, Disgusting & Totally Repulsive, and three X-Files novels. FARBER, E.S. E.S. Farber is the author of the Fish Finelli series. She has authored numerous books for children. She lives in Amagansett, New York.

cool reads for cool kids.

GALVESTON, LOUISE Louise grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. When she’s not writing, she directs children’s theater and dabbles in watercolor. GRANGE, HEIDI Heidi is a school librarian and book reviewer, maintaining two blogs: Geo Librarian and LDS and Lovin’ It. She also reviews for School Library Journal. GREEN, DC DC Green has had over 2,000 stories published in 40+ countries. His first book for the young-at-brain, Erasmus James and the Galactic Zapp Machine, was published in 2005. HOLUB, JOAN Former associate art director at Scholastic, Inc., Joan Holub is the co-author of the popular book series The Goddess Girls. She has written and illustrated over 130 books for children. HOPKINSON, DEBORAH Deborah Hopkinson is the author of more than 45 books for children, many of which are award-winning. She holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. from the University of Hawaii at Minoa. JOHNSON-SHELTON, NILS Nils Johnson-Shelton attended Eugene Lang College and The New School University. He likes internet cat videos, long walks in the woods, video games, his kids, and rock climbing.


march/april 2014

contributors MCMAHON, JEFF Jeff McMahon is an author and poet. Born and raised in Skokie, Illinois, Jeff studied at Northern Illinois University before moving to Temecula, California where he currently resides with his family. NOLEN, REBECCA Rebecca lives with her family in a 100-year-old house in Houston, Texas. Writing for both children and adults, her next release is an adult suspense thriller called Deadly Thyme (under R.L. Nolen). PASTIS, STEPHAN Stephan Pastis is the creator of Pearls Before Swine, an acclaimed comic strip that appears in more than six hundred newspapers. Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is his first novel for young readers. QUINN, SUSAN KAYE Susan is the author of the bestselling young adult scifi Mindjack trilogy and several fantasy books for kids. She also holds three degrees including a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering. RUNKLE, TONI Toni Runkle studied writing at the University of Southern California where she met her writing partner, Stephen Webb, on her first day of class. She writes books, blogs, and screenplays and lives in Southern California. SHUSTERMAN, NEAL Goosebumps and Animorphs screenwriter and award-winning author of more than thirty books for young people, Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn but now lives in Southern California. SHEVAH, EMMA London-born writer Emma Shevah’s great-great-grandfather was King Rama I of Thailand. She spends her time writing, teaching English and raising her four children. SOVERN, MEGAN JEAN Before her first leap into fiction, Megan Jean Sovern was a copywriter. The Meaning of Maggie is based

on her real-life experiences with her father. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. TAYLOR, CHLOE Chloe Taylor learned to sew when she was a little girl. Now that she’s grown up, she still loves fashion: It’s like art that you can wear. Chloe has written more than thirty books for children and lives, writes, and window shops in New York City. THOMPSON, BRIAN Art director and co-designer of Big Fish Studio’s critically acclaimed Drawn series and the mobile game, Fetch, Brian Thompson’s work has appeared in various magazines and on the covers of several HarperCollins books. WEBB, STEPHEN Stephen Webb hails from a small town in South Dakota and now makes his home in Los Angeles. Before Glitter Girl, he wrote screenplays, textbooks, and episodes of the TV series Biography. WESTON, CAROL Advice columnist for Girl’s Life Magazine and author of twelve books, Carol Weston earned an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury. She lives in New York with her husband and daughters. WHYTE, J.C. J.C. Whyte fulfilled her life-long dream of becoming an author with the recent publication of Karmack. Next to that, her years as lawyer, travel agent and PR specialist pale in comparison. WILLIAMS, SUZANNE Co-author of The Goddess Girls series, Suzanne spent ten years as a librarian before she started writing books. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Middle Shelf is published bimonthly by Shelf Media Group LLC, 3322 Greenview Drive, Garland, TX 75044. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe.

cool reads for cool kids.


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Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids -- March/April 2014