It’s 1948, and 11-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher wants each of her students to choose a pen pal, hoping that “new worlds will unfold in front of you, and you’ll see your own world through fresh eyes.” Tate decides to write to rising country singer Hank Williams. She pours her heart out to her idol in letter after letter, even though he sends her fan photos but never writes back.
Ten years ago, Jeanne Birdsall introduced readers to the funny, smart, sweet-but-never-saccharine Penderwick sisters, whose initial summer adventures were followed by two additional books. This fourth installment opens five years after The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. With Rosalind away at college and Skye and Jane busy with teenage pursuits, the focus is on 10-year-old Batty, along with her stepbrother Ben and the newest Penderwick sibling, 2-year-old Lydia.
The fact that the world’s not fair is a hard concept for children to learn. But 11-year-old Julia Delaney (based on the author’s mother-in-law, also named Julia) knows this lesson all too well growing up in St. Louis’ tough Irish neighborhood of Kerry Patch in the winter of 1911 (one of the coldest winters on record in Missouri). When her grandmother, and last blood relative, dies, she is sent to live at the House of Mercy, an “Industrial School and Girls’ Home” run by strict nuns, and is eventually separated from her older brother and sister.
In this humbly magnificent tale of the ultimate triumph of good over evil, 12-year-old Tam goes from wretchedness to hopefulness as he begins to understand the ancient wisdom of his people.
Sometimes being the smartest kid in your class doesn’t make you any friends. Sometimes the way you see the world is so different from “normal” that you’re not sure anyone can understand you. So it is for Nicholas Funes, the 11-year-old hero of If You Find This.
Caroline Starr Rose’s new historical novel, Blue Birds, gives middle grade readers an intriguing glimpse of some of the earliest settlers who came to the New World. Vivid personalities bring the 16th-century settlement of Roanoke, Virginia, to life as one young settler from England finds a friend who will change her life.
Centuries-old dragon Miss Drake, narrator of A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans, is mourning the death of her beloved pet, Fluffy (actually a human named Amelia) when young human Winnie shows up at her door. Winnie is precocious, observant and, at first, annoying. But Miss Drake soon realizes that Winnie is dealing with a painful loss as well—her father—and decides she must look after the girl to honor Fluffy’s memory.
Susan Vaught is the author of several books for teens, including Trigger and Freaks Like Us, and is a neuropsychologist at a state psychiatric facility. Her novels often include fascinating ties to mental illness, but her first middle grade book, Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy, reveals a hilarious new side to the author. We needed to know more about Footer and her family, so we contacted the author, who lives on a farm in rural Kentucky.
Move over, Mary Poppins, and make way for Ms. Rapscott, Headmistress of the Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. Elise Primavera, creator of the popular Auntie Claus books, offers a whimsical tale of a most unusual teacher and her school for girls whose parents are much too busy to be, well, parents. In fact, there’s no need for moms or dads to even bother bringing the girls to school, as the admissions materials include a self-addressed box for safely mailing daughters to campus.
The latest novel by award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan is a hefty yet riveting page-turner containing four interwoven stories.