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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade (83)

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

Brian can think of a few places he'd rather spend his summer than with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois. Jail, for example. Or an earplug factory. Anything would be better than doing summer school on a computer while his scientist dad is stationed at the South Pole.

Boring lives up to its name until Brian and his cousin Nora have a fight, get lost, and discover a huge, wooden house in the forest. With balconies, turrets, and windows seemingly stuck on at random, it looks ready to fall over in the next stiff breeze. To the madcap, eccentric family that lives inside, it’s not just a home it’s a castle.

Suddenly, summer gets a lot more exciting. With their new friends, Brian and Nora tangle with giant wasps, sharp-tusked wild boars, and a crazed bureaucrat intent on bringing the dangerously dilapidated old house down with a wrecking ball.

This funny, fantastical story will resonate with any reader who’s ever wished a little adventure would find them.

Bone Jack by Sara Crowe

Times have been tough for Ash lately, and all he wants is for everything to go back to the way it used to be. Back before drought ruined the land and disease killed off the livestock. Before Ash s father went off to war and returned carrying psychological scars. Before his best friend, Mark, started acting strangely.

As Ash trains for his town s annual Stag Chase a race rooted in violent, ancient lore he’s certain that if he can win and make his father proud, life will return to normal. But the line between reality and illusion is rapidly blurring, and the past has a way of threatening the present.

When a run in the mountains brings Ash face-to-face with Bone Jack a figure that guards the boundary between the living world and the dead everything changes once more. As dark energies take root and the world as he knows it is upended, it s up to Ash to restore things to their proper order and literally run for his life.

See You in the Costmos, Carl Sagan by Jack Cheng

For fans of Counting by 7s and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time comes a funny, luminous middle grade novel about a space-obsessed boy, his dog Carl Sagan, and a journey to discover big truths about his family.

Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski is determined to launch his golden iPod into space, just like his hero Carl Sagan launched the Golden Record into space ages and ages ago. Instead, Alex and his dog, aptly named Carl Sagan, wind up on a road trip with some unexpected (and awesome) traveling companions and more than one eye-opening detour. On the road, Alex learns a lot about rockets, casinos, animal control, apple pie à la mode, and secrets he didn't know existed—including the truth about his long-dead father, and the realization that for a kid with just a mom and an erstwhile brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang by Victoria J. Coe
When evil bunnies invade the Dog Park, Fenway’s hot on their trail. Hattie seems understandably alarmed, though she clearly doesn’t appreciate his efforts. She shoos him out of the garden and fills in holes as fast as he can dig them!

Fenway wonders if his beloved Hattie could be working against him, until she brings home a cage with a bunny inside. He can hardly control his excitement - she captured one of the intruders! But when Fenway realizes Hattie actually likes the bunny, he’s crushed. Is his heart big enough to accept that Hattie can love another pet, too?

In this sequel to Fenway and Hattie, these two best buddies learn that making the right choice can be tough, but being a real friend is the greatest choice of all.

The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter

Murder, madness, and sea monsters combine in this thrilling and atmospheric middle grade debut perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and Tim Burton.

Sophie Seacove is a storyteller. She tells stories of what the world would be like if madness hadn t taken over. If her parents hadn t sold her off as a servant to pay for their stupid vacation. If she wasn t now trapped in a decaying mansion filled with creepy people and surrounded by ravenous sea monsters.

The mansion has plenty of stories, too: About fantastical machines, and the tragic inventor who created them. About his highly suspicious death. And about the Monster Box, a mysterious object hidden in the house that just might hold thekey to escaping this horrible place and to reuniting Sophie with her family.

But not everyone wants Sophie to have the Monster Box, and as she gets closer to finding it, she finds herself unspooling years-old secrets and dodging dangerous attacks. Sophie needs to use her brains, her brawn, and her unbreakable nature if she wants to make it off this wretched island and live to tell this story.
Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine by Caroline Starr Rose

Hoping to strike it rich, two brothers escape an abusive father and set out on a treacherous journey to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Desperate to get away from their drunkard of a father, eleven-year-old Jasper and his older brother Melvin often talk of running away, of heading north to Alaska to chase riches beyond their wildest dreams. The Klondike Gold Rush is calling, and Melvin has finally decided the time to go is now even if that means leaving Jasper behind. But Jasper has other plans, and follows his brother aboard a steamer as a stowaway.

Onboard the ship, Jasper overhears a rumor about One-Eyed Riley, an old coot who's long since gone, but is said to have left clues to the location of his stake, which still has plenty of gold left. The first person to unravel the clues and find the mine can stake the claim and become filthy rich. Jasper is quick to catch gold fever and knows he and Melvin can find the mine all they have to do is survive the rough Alaskan terrain, along with the steep competition from the unscrupulous and dangerous people they encounter along the way.

In an endearing, funny, pitch-perfect middle grade voice, Caroline Starr Rose tells another stellar historical adventure young readers will long remember.
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty

A hilarious send-up of fantasy quest novels, perfect for fans of Adam Gidwitz and Jon Scieszka.

Welcome to the kingdom of Great Kerfuffle!
Great Kerfuffle is really great. And there's usually a kerfuffle (the clue's in the name really). This particular kerfuffle started the day Stinkbomb's twenty dollar bill went missing. Stinkbomb and his little sister Ketchup-Face know exactly who took it: the badgers. After all, they're called badgers because they do bad things; otherwise they'd just be gers.

They bring news of the badgers' treachery to King Toothbrush Weasel (don't get us started on the story behind his name ), who sends them on a quest to rid the land of badgers. What follows is a full on kerfuffle-fest, containing: one deep dark forest, a grocery cart in distress, a song about jam--and, of course, a band of very tricky badgers.

Be prepared to laugh your socks off, and maybe your ears, too.

Willows vs. Wolverines by Alison Cherry

Izzy Cervantes and her best friend, Mackenzie, have spent summers together at Camp Sweetwater since they were eight. So when their parents decide to ship them off to Camp Foxtail instead, the girls find themselves completely out of their element — and worse yet, in different cabins!

Izzy feels like an outsider in Willow Lodge. But when she hears about the time-honored prank war between the Willows and the Wolverines, the rival boy cabin, she sees a chance to make her mark. Convinced the girls will never accept her as one of them unless she has roots at Camp Foxtail, she boasts that her older brother is the most respected prankster in the camp’s history and would be happy to help them win the war. In reality, Izzy doesn’t even have an older brother, but the Willows embrace her as their new secret weapon, and Mackenzie agrees to help her hatch a series of epic stunts.

As the hijinks escalate, so does Izzy’s popularity. But she becomes so focused on impressing her new friends that she starts neglecting Mackenzie, putting her friendship and her secret prank-master identity in serious jeopardy.

Can Izzy keep the truth under wraps and win her best friend back, or will she end up on the wrong side of her allies as well as her enemies?

Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe

 From the author of the successful FRIENDS FOR KEEPS series comes Wren Jo Byrd, a nine-year-old introvert whose life has gone topsy-turvy ever since her dad moved out.
It's the start of a new school year and Wren Jo Bryd is worried that everyone will find out her parents separated over the summer. No one knows the truth, not even her best friend, Amber. When even her new teacher refers to her mom as "Mrs." Byrd, Wren decides to keep their divorce a total secret. But something else changed over the summer: A new girl named Marianna moved to town and wants to be Amber's next bff. And because of her fib, Wren can't do anything about it. From take-out dinners with Mom to the tiny room she gets at Dad's new place, nothing is the same for Wren anymore. But while Marianna makes everything harder at first, Wren soon learns that Marianna once had to ask many of the same questions the big ones, as well as the little ones that Wren is asking now.
Set in Wisconsin, with wonderfully nuanced characters--from the bossy new girl, who acts big but has a secret of her own, to the sporty girl who acts little and shy but who becomes an unexpected friend--this is a book about much more than divorce.

The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.

But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorne trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.

In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?

In a novel that harkens back to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edward Eagar’s Half Magic and the smart, kid-friendly writing of E.L. Konigsburg, Amy Ephron makes her triumphant middle grade debut.

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Acclaimed author Erin Entrada Kelly’s third novel for tweens is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships. Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero), and it’s perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree.

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is hearing impaired, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Sometimes four can do what one cannot. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
Ivy by Katherine Coville
Ivy's grandmother is a healer to mostly four-legged patients of the forest. Although the woodland creatures love her, the residents of Broomsweep grumble about Grandmother s unkempt garden. When a kingdom-wide contest is announced to proclaim the tidiest town in the land, the people of Broomsweep are determined to win. That is, if they can get Ivy s grandmother to clean up her ways. Ivy is determined to lend a hand, but the task proves more challenging when a series of unexpected refugees descends on Grandmother s cottage. Before the week is over, an injured griffin, a dragon with a cold, and a tiny flock of temperamental pixies will cause a most untidy uproar in Broomsweep . . . and brighten Ivy's days in ways she never could have dreamed.

The Emperor's Riddle by Kat Zhang
Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.

Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows that years ago, when Aunt Lin and Ying were sent to the Fuzhou countryside to work as laborers, the two searched for an ancient treasure together–one that still hasn’t been found. She’s suspicious that their shared history might be linked to Aunt Lin’s disappearance.

When Mia discovers an old map filled with riddles in Aunt Lin’s room, she quickly pieces together her mission: find the treasure, find her aunt. Now, Mia, along with her big brother, Jake, must solve the clues to rescue the person she knows best in the world—and maybe unearth a treasure greater than her wildest dreams.
Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt

Pitched as a contemporary Heidi, a girl named Stevie finds healing as her gardening brings beauty back into her surroundings.

Do you have a favorite recent new cover? Or a favorite from this list? Let me know in the comments!


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