Patches the calico cat is on a mission to find a special place of her own. A golden leaf pirouettes by the window, teasing her to follow. Filled with longing, she springs at the screen and chases the leaf into the wide, wide world. She’s never been on an adventure before, but one glance at the blue-and-gold sky tells her that thousands of special places must await her.
Life has always been routine for 12-year-old twins Eryn and Nick. They reside in a quiet suburban town and take turns living with their psychologist mother and goofy but good-natured father, who have been amicably divorced since the twins were little. They’ve embraced this arrangement until their mother reveals she’s getting remarried to a professor at a local college. The family is going to move into a new home in the same town, and the twins will get two new stepsiblings, Ava and Jackson. Although Nick easily accepts their mother’s news, Eryn is ruffled by the changes, especially when their mother informs the twins that they will never meet their new siblings.
Steve’s family has just welcomed a new baby, so all should be well. But it isn’t. The baby—who disconcertingly remains unnamed for many pages—is very ill, with an undisclosed congenital disorder, so his parents are constantly worried, stressed and distracted. It isn’t until young Steve begins to have inexplicable and surreal dreams that his life begins to change . . . not necessarily for the better.
Gary Paulsen has long been beckoned by nature, and throughout This Side of Wild, he recounts numerous tales from his decades of outdoor adventures. As he does, he comes to realize that the one constant throughout is his ever-evolving and maturing relationship with the animals he both raises at home and encounters out in the wild, all of whom seem to know far more than humans have ever assumed.
Phillip has a problem with his imaginary friend Brock. It’s quite an unusual problem, even for an imaginary friend. At the end of an exhausting trip to the Big Fair, Phillip falls asleep, and upon waking up at home, he realizes something has gone very wrong: Brock isn’t in the car! After frantically searching the house and not finding Brock, Phillip has a full-fledged meltdown, screaming, “We forgot Brock!”
Graphic novels are all the rage with young readers these days, but this fact can be frustrating for adults who are trying to encourage kids to read more complex material. Thank goodness veteran comic-book creators Robert Venditti and Dusty Higgins have created a hybrid sure to satisfy both camps in Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape: Attack of the Alien Horde. Sixty-five of the 304 pages are comic panels drawn by Higgins, while the rest is prose written by Venditti.
In Ruby on the Outside, Nora Raleigh Baskin gives readers a serious, relatable look into the criminal justice system and its ripple effects. The story of Ruby, her aunt and her mother contributes to the growing body of children’s literature highlighting nontraditional family structures.
After six children receive invitations from an eccentric countess, they encounter mysterious keys, things that go bump in the night and secret passages during the weekend visit of a lifetime. The children unknowingly share a connection, but rather than bringing them together, this bond nearly destroys them.
Truly Lovejoy, or Drooly as her brother calls her, tries to stay under the radar. But she’s nearly six feet tall and sporting size 10.5 shoes, so being overlooked is impossible.
When I was younger, I was a huge fan of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novels A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, in which a girl is whisked from darkest India to a very different environment in England, usually in the wake of a family tragedy. As captivating as those novels were to my preteen self, what was always missing was a real portrait, not just a glimpse, of what the heroine’s life was like in the exotic place from which she came. Katherine Rundell’s Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms does exactly that.