Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. I’ve mixed the different genres together for this one, so there should be something for everyone. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Sharon M. Draper – Stella by Starlight (Atheneum, Historical Fiction)
When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.
Stella lives in the segregated South—in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community—her world—is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.
When twelve-year-old Talia—still reeling from the recent death of her mother—is forced to travel with her emotionally and physically distant whale-researcher father to the Arctic for the summer, she begins to wonder if the broken pieces inside of her will ever begin to heal. Like her jar of wishes, Talia feels bottled up and torn. Everything about life in Churchill feels foreign, including Sura, the traditional Inuit woman whom Talia must live with. But when Sura exposes her to the tradition of storytelling, she unlocks something within Talia that has long since been buried: her ability to hope, to believe again in making wishes come true.
A rich and poignant story about opening up—to new people, to second chances, to moving forward with life.
Gareth P. Jones – No True Echo (Hot Key Books, Mystery)
Eddie is pretty certain nowhere could be more small-town, more boring, and more inconsequential than his home town of the Wellcome Valley. Unfortunately, he is about to be proved spectacularly wrong.
Eddie’s problems start with the arrival of Scarlett, a new girl in town who seems rather too confident and mysterious for your average schoolgirl. She attracts trouble (and Eddie) like a magnet, and she’s apparently only interested in two very strange things – protecting the town’s local crackpot scientist, and telling Eddie absolutely nothing about what on earth is going on. And why is she so interested in Eddie’s long-dead mother? Things quickly go from weird to worse for Eddie, as he finds himself right in the middle of a dangerous mystery – one with consequences not just for him and Scarlett, but time itself.
Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.
But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.
Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…
…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.
Jordan Stratford – The Case of the Missing Moonstone (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Mystery)
Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!
Lady Ada Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude—but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.
Mystery fans will love this tween girl riff on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. History buffs will be delighted to see all the real figures who play a role in this story and appreciate the extensive backmatter that helps separate truth from fiction. Parents and educators hoping to promote the STEM fields for girls will be thrilled to have a series where two girls use math, science, and creative analytical thinking to solve crimes. But most especially–emerging readers will love this series filled with humor, action, intrigue and wonderful artwork from Kelly Murphy.
MarcyKate Connolly- Monstrous (HarperCollins, Fantasy)
Reminiscent of Frankenstein and tales by the Brothers Grimm, this debut novel stands out as a compelling, original story that has the feel of a classic.
The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace and all live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.
Night is when Kymera comes to the city, with a cloak disguising her wings, the bolts in her neck, and her spiky tail. Her mission is to rescue the girls of Bryre.
Despite Kym’s caution to go secretively, a boy named Ren sees and befriends her…but what he knows will change her world forever.
A brilliant debut novel!
Jennifer Richard Jacobson – Paper Things (Candlewick Press, Contemporary)
When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students.
So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been “couch surfing,” staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.
Liz Kessler – Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? (Candlewick Press, Contemporary)
Jessica Jenkins has always been a perfectly ordinary girl — until one day part of her arm vanishes in the middle of geography class! Jessica’s friends Izzy and Tom are determined to help her develop her newfound invisibility, though Jessica is more concerned with discovering where the ability came from. When it becomes apparent that there may be other kids developing strange powers of their own, Jessica marshals them into a slapdash band of “slightly superheroes.” But when an unscrupulous adult discovers the origin of their powers and kidnaps one of the team, the rest must put their heads — and all of their skills — together to avert disaster.
Gordon Korman – Masterminds (Balzer + Bray, Adventure)
From bestselling author Gordon Korman comes a thrilling new middle grade trilogy about a group of kids living in a Pleasantville-type town who discover a dark secret that connects them to some of the greatest criminal masterminds of their time.
Eli Frieden lives in the most boring town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. Only thirty kids live in the idyllic town, where every lawn is perfectly manicured and everyone has a pool and a basketball hoop. Honesty and kindness are the backbone of the community. There is no crime in this utopia.
Eli has never left town…. Why would he ever want to? But everything changes the day he and his friend Randy bike to the edge of the city limits. Eli is suddenly struck with a paralyzing headache and collapses. Almost instantly, a crew of security—or “Purple People Eaters,” as the kids call them—descend via helicopter. Eli awakens in the hospital, and the next day, Randy and his family are gone.
As Eli convinces his friends Tori and Malik to help him investigate Randy’s disappearance, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. As the clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, the kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents. So they hatch a plan for what could be the greatest breakout in history—but will they survive? And if they do, where do they go from there?
This first book in a thrilling new series from the middle grade “mastermind” Gordon Korman is sure to be a hit with his myriad fans.
Thanhha Lai – Listen, Slowly (HarperCollins, Contemporary)
This brand-new novel from Thanhha Lai, author of the National Book Award–winning and Newbery Honor Book Inside Out & Back Again, follows a young girl as she discovers the true meaning of family.
Mia has been shipped off to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is traveling there to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mia’s parents think this trip is a great opportunity for her to learn more about her roots. But Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place Mia wants to be during vacation. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive this trip, Mia will be forced to find the balance between her two completely different worlds.
Listen, Slowly is an irresistibly charming and emotionally poignant tale of a girl who discovers that home is not found on a map but is instead made up of the people she surrounds herself with and who she calls family.
Tricia Springstubb – Moonpenny Island (Balzer + Bray, Mystery)
Moonpenny is a tiny island in a great lake. When the summer people leave and the ferries stop running, just the tried-and-true islanders are left behind. Flor and her best, her perfect friend, Sylvie, are the only eleven-year-olds for miles and miles—and Flor couldn’t be happier.
But come the end of summer, unthinkable things begin to happen. Sylvie is suddenly, mysteriously whisked away to school on the mainland. Flor’s mother leaves to take care of Flor’s sick grandmother and doesn’t come back. Her big sister has a secret, and Flor fears it’s a dangerous one.
Meanwhile, a geologist and his peculiar daughter arrive to excavate prehistoric trilobites, one of the first creatures to develop sight. Soon Flor is helping them. As her own ability to see her life on this little lump of limestone evolves, she faces truths about those she loves—and about herself—she never imagined.
Tricia Springstubb tells a warm and deeply affecting story about what it means to see, and why the biggest feat of all may be seeing through someone else’s eyes.
Holly Grant – The League of Beastly Dreadfuls (Random House Books, Fantasy)
Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape!
Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?
A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.
Elise Primavera – Ms. Rapscott’s Girls (Dial Books, Adventure)
Fans of Mary Poppins will love this whimsical tale of a boarding school for children of very busy parents, where an extraordinary headmistress teaches them life lessons about courage, adventure, friendship . . . and the importance of birthday cake.
Nestled inside a lighthouse, Great Rapscott School for the Daughters of Busy Parents takes its motto from Amelia Earhart: Adventure is worthwhile in itself. Headmistress Ms. Rapscott couldn’t agree more, but her students, who are shipped to the school in boxes, could use a little convincing. Still, despite their initial reluctance, the students are soon soaring through the sky and getting lost on purpose. In addition to learning what birthday cakes are and how best to approach a bumbershoot tree, the students also manage to learn a little something about strength and bravery.
Bestselling author Elise Primavera has created an irresistible, richly illustrated story about finding your way.
From the moment Horace F. Andrews sees the sign from the bus – literally a sign with his name on it – everything in his normal little life changes. An encounter with the House of Answers, a magically hidden warehouse full of mysterious objects and even stranger people, only leads to more questions. These people think he’s special – a Keeper of an incredible gift – although scientifically-minded Horace isn’t so sure he really believes in that kind of thing. But then a confrontation with an impossibly tall, thin, creepy and undoubtedly menacing man makes him think twice…
Horace must now quickly begin to unravel the mysteries of this hidden world and his new gift, as he finds himself immersed in a battle between ancient forces, where the bad guys don’t pull any punches, even the good guys have their flaws, and where friendship, loyalty and trust turn out to be the greatest powers of all.
Obert Skye – Witherwood Reform School (Henry Holt and Co., Adventure)
After a slight misunderstanding involving a horrible governess, oatmeal, and a jar of tadpoles, siblings Tobias and Charlotte Eggars find themselves abandoned by their father at the gates of a creepy reform school. Sinister mysteries are afoot at Witherwood, where the grounds are patrolled by vicious creatures after dark and kids are locked in their rooms. Charlotte and Tobias soon realize that they are in terrible danger—especially because the head of Witherwood has perfected the art of mind control.
If only their amnesiac father would recover and remember that he has two missing children. If only Tobias and Charlotte could solve the dark mystery and free the kids at Witherwood—and ultimately save themselves.
Tracey Baptiste – The Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers, Fantasy)
Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?
When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for Corinne’s father, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and save her island home.
Jacob Grey – Ferals (HarperCollins, Fantasy)
For years, Caw has lived on the streets of Blackstone with only three crows for company. Caw has never known why he can understand the crows. But when he rescues a girl named Lydia from a vicious attack, he discovers others like him—ferals who can speak to certain animals. And some of them are dangerous.
Now, the most sinister feral of all—the Spinning Man—is on the move again. To save his city, Caw must quickly master abilities he never knew he had…and prepare to defeat a darkness he never could have imagined.
Nicole Helget – Wonder at the Edge of the World (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Historical Fiction)
In this captivating quest that spans the globe, a young girl must challenge her assumptions about family, slavery, and friendship as she fights to save her father’s legacy…and to begin creating her own.
Hallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the nineteenth century. Her father was a scientist and explorer, but his life was cruelly cut short by an evil Navy captain who coveted his cache of artifacts. Hallelujah feels a great responsibility to protect the objects–particularly a mesmerizing (and dangerous) one called the Medicine Head–before the captain can succeed. Now she and her best friend, a slave boy about to be sold, must set out on a sweeping adventure by land and by sea to the only place where no one will ever be able to find the cursed talisman: the forbidding land of Antarctica.
Matthew J. Kirby – The Arctic Code (Balzer + Bray, Adventure)
In the near future, half the Earth has been encased in massive glaciers. For reasons unknown to astronomers, the planet’s orbit has shifted, threatening to freeze out all life, and no one knows how to stop it.
Eleanor Perry is the daughter of a climatologist who works for a nonprofit oil company, one of many people trying to find new ways to preserve human life on the planet. But she has gone missing in the Arctic looking for answers, and it’s up to Eleanor to find her. This search will launch Eleanor on a breathless race to unlock the mysteries of what has happened to our planet, solve the riddle of the cold that could be our end—and uncover a threat to the Earth that may not be from this world.
Gail Carson Levine – Stolen Magic (HarperCollins, Fantasy)
Elodie, the dragon detective Meenore, and the kindly ogre Count Jonty Um are all on their way to Elodie’s home island of Lahnt. Elodie has barely set foot on land before she learns that the Replica, a statue that keeps her island’s deadly volcano from erupting, has been stolen! If the Replica isn’t found in three days, a mountain will be destroyed. And when Elodie ends up alone with a cast of characters any of whom may be guilty, she has to use her wits to try to unravel a tangled web of lies.
Fiona McIntosh – The Whisperer (Knopf Books, Fantasy)
In this classic middle-grade fantasy/adventure story, the lives of a runaway prince and a carnival pauper become intertwined as each is compelled to fight for his life and family. Fans of The Sixty-Eight Rooms and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy won’t want to miss this.
Lute is a prince, next in line to the throne. Griff is a poor carnival worker who does the heavy lifting while the malevolent ringmaster orders him about. But there’s something special about Griff: he can hear the thoughts of everyone around him. And one day, he begins to connect with Lute’s mind, even though they’ve never met and are miles apart.
When Lute must run for his very life, Griff may be the only one who can help him. In a journey over land and sea, these heroes battle deadly foes and make unlikely allies, including a host of magical creatures and their caretaker, a bitter old dwarf, and a mysterious lady pirate. When the boys finally come together, they will learn they are connected in ways they could never have imagined, ways that may save them—or cost them both their lives.
Robin Stevens – Murder Is Bad Manners (S&S Books for Young Readers, Mystery)
Two friends form a detective agency—and must solve their first murder case—in this start to a middle grade mystery series at a 1930s boarding school.
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are best friends at Deepdean School for Girls, and they both have a penchant for solving mysteries. In fact, outspoken Daisy is a self-described Sherlock Holmes, and she appoints wallflower Hazel as her own personal Watson when they form their own (secret!) detective agency. The only problem? They have nothing to investigate.
But that changes once Hazel discovers the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell—and the body subsequently disappears. She and Daisy are certain a murder must have taken place, and they can think of more than one person with a motive.
Determined to get to the bottom of the crime—and to prove that it happened—before the killer strikes again, Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects, and use all the cunning, scheming, and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
Emilie Christie Burack – The Runaway’s Gold (Amulet Books, Historical Fiction)
In 1842, Christopher Robertson’s family lives a difficult life as “crofters,” farmers and fishermen so in debt to the landowner that they have no hope of ever breaking free. To make matters worse, Christopher also lives under the thumb of his morally questionable father and devious brother. When his brother frames him for the theft of their father’s secret bag of coins, Christopher must leave his home and embark on a journey across the island to return the coins and clear his name. It’s a journey that takes twists and turns, including stops in prison, on a smuggler’s ship, and at the house of a beautiful girl—and it ends with him escaping to a new life in America, which has dangers of its own.
Sarah Courtauld – Buckle and Squash: The Perilous Princess Plot (Feiwel & Friends, Fantasy)
This is the story of two very different sisters—Eliza, who longs to ride into battle against villains and dragons, and Lavender, who would give anything to be a pampered princess. Before the end of the story both of them have had a chance to fulfill their dreams, though not quite in the way they intended…
Accompanied by their depressed goat, Gertrude, with their granny’s warnings about the Black Death ringing in their ears, they head out into the forest and come face to face with an evil count who definitely does not have their best interests at heart.
Krista Van Dolzer – The Sound of Life and Everything (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Historical Fiction)
Twelve-year-old Ella Mae Higbee is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables and wants to be just like Sergeant Friday, her favorite character on Dragnet. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about a scientist who can bring her cousin back to life from blood on his dog tags, Ella Mae is skeptical—until he steps out of a bio-pod right before her eyes.
But the boy is not her cousin—he’s Japanese. And in California in the wake of World War II, the Japanese are still feared and despised. When her aunt refuses to take responsibility, Ella Mae and her Mama take him home instead. Determined to do what’s right by her new friend, Ella Mae teaches Takuma English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks. But when his memories start to resurface, Ella Mae learns some shocking truths about her own family and more importantly, what it means to love.
Lisa Graff – Lost in the Sun (Philomel Books, Contemporary)
Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can’t get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he’s not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is. Trent could even join the baseball team, if he wants to.
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.
It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.
Rob Lloyd Jones – Wild Boy and the Black Terror (Candlewick Press, Fantasy)
London, 1842. Wild Boy, master detective and former freak-show performer, and Clarissa, circus acrobat and troublemaker, are the secret last hope of a city beset by horror. A poisoner stalks the streets, leaving victims mad with terror—and then dead. Can the Black Terror be traced to a demon called Malphas? With their partnership threatened by rules and regulations, can Wild Boy and Clarissa uncover a cure in time to save the queen and the city?
Robert Sharenow – The Girl in the Torch (Balzer + Bray, MG, Historical Fiction)
At the dawn of the twentieth century, thousands of immigrants are arriving in the promised land of New York City. Twelve-year-old Sarah has always dreamed of America, a land of freedom and possibility. In her small village she stares at a postcard of the Statue of Liberty and imagines the Lady beckoning to her. When Sarah and her mother finally journey across the Atlantic, though, tragedy strikes—and Sarah finds herself being sent back before she even sets foot in the country.
Yet just as Sarah is ushered onto the boat that will send her away from the land of her dreams, she makes a life-or-death decision. She daringly jumps off the back of the boat and swims as hard as she can toward the Lady’s island and a new life.
Her leap of faith leads her to an unbelievable hiding place: the Statue of Liberty itself. Now Sarah must find a way to Manhattan while avoiding the statue’s night watchman and scavenging enough food to survive. When a surprising ally helps bring her to the city, Sarah finds herself facing new dangers and a life on her own. Will she ever find a true home in America?
M.M. Vaughan – Six (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Fantasy)
Parker and his sister will do whatever it takes to find their father in this adventure packed with action and mystery from the author of The Ability and Mindscape.
Parker and his family share a secret: they can, with the help of advanced technology, communicate between themselves through their thoughts.
When Parker, his dad, and sister Emma move to New York three years after his mother’s death, Parker is having a hard time. He misses London and his friends, his father is distracted with his new job, and Emma is looking out for him instead of the other way around.
And then Parker’s dad, on the cusp of a technological breakthrough, is kidnapped. Thanks to a message his dad sent via thoughts before the signal cut off, Parker is suddenly on a rescue mission. Now Parker and Emma, along with their friend Michael and Polly the pig, must find this person—the only link to their father—but the search asks more questions than it answers. But all the signs point to one thing: the company his dad works for is up to something big. Huge. A perfectly sinister project that threatens far more than Parker’s family. A project called SIX.
Jake and Taylor Wilder have been taking care of themselves for a long time. Their father abandoned the family years ago, and their mother is too busy working and running interference between the boys and her boyfriend, Bull, to spend a lot of time with them. Thirteen-year-old Jake spends most of his time reading. He pours over his father’s journal, which is full of wilderness facts and survival tips. Eleven-year-old Taylor likes to be outside playing with their dog, Cody, or joking around with the other kids in the neighborhood.
But one night everything changes. The boys discover a dangerous secret that Bull is hiding.
And the next day, they come home from school to find their mother unconscious in an ambulance. Knowing they are no longer safe and with nowhere else to go, the Wilder Boys head off in search of their father. They only have his old letters and journal to help them, but they have to make it.
It’s a long journey from the suburbs of Pittsburgh to the wilderness of Wyoming; can the Wilder Boys find their father before Bull catches up with them?
Eve Yohalem – Cast Off (Dial Books, Historical Fiction)
A tale of pirates, mutiny, and friendship on the high seas, perfect for fans of “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” It is 1662, and twelve-year-old Petra sees only one way to escape her abusive father: She stows away on a merchant ship bound for the East Indies. But she quickly realizes that surviving for months at sea will be impossible without help. So when Bram, the illegitimate, half-Dutch / Half-Javanese son of the ship’s carpenter, finds her hiding spot, Petra convinces him to help her stay hidden . . .and help disguise her as a boy. If Petra is discovered and exposed as a girl, she could be tossed overboard, or worse . . . returned to her father. And if Bram is exposed for helping her, he could lose the only home–and family–he has. And so as tensions rise on the ship, with pirate attacks, illness, and even mutiny, both Petra and Bram must make impossible decisions about friendship, loyalty, freedom, and survival. Told in alternating voices and filled with secrets and intrigue, this action-packed, richly researched novel is historical fiction at its best.
John David Anderson – The Dungeoneers (Walden Pond Press, Adventure)
Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.
Teach him to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.
Teach him to steal, though, and he won’t have to eat fish every day for the rest of his life.
The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler’s earnings, Colm can’t help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It’s just a question of how far you’re willing to go to get it.
In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: He can be punished for his thievery or can learn to put his newfound talents to even better use—to become a member of Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in their quest for endless treasure.
But not all families are perfect, and even as Colm hones his skills with his fellow recruits, it becomes more and more clear that something from outside threatens the dungeoneers—and perhaps something from inside as well.
Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.
The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman – Book Scavenger (Henry Holt and Co., Mystery)
For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.
Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game—before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.
Shawn Thomas Odyssey – The Magician’s Dream (EgmontUSA, Fantasy)
Pseudonymous Bosch crosses with Angie Sage in a middle-grade novel that mixes mystery and fantasy as our intrepid heroine investigates the theft of a ruby necklace that bestows upon its wearer untold powers.
A break-in at the museum, mysterious visitors to the grand new library, and a cute guy that Oona is just beginning to notice provide obstacles, distraction, and aid as Oona navigates her way among the politics of her wizard neighbors to discover who is to blame in the latest Oona Crate mystery.