When antimatter combines with matter, it creates an explosion of energy. That’s an accurate formula for what Jon Scieszka has created with this excellent first book in his new middle grade series.
In 12-year-old Mysti Murphy’s imagination, she wears a beret and rides a bicycle by the Eiffel Tower. In the real world, she’s counting cans of dog food and rolls of toilet paper to help her family “hold on” until her dad comes home from the hospital. Mysti also keeps a secret: Her mother never leaves the house. To make matters worse, Mysti’s best friend, Anibal, has abandoned her to join the hipster crowd.
Kimberley Griffiths Little’s new book brings all the eeriness of the Louisiana bayou into an engaging story about a girl, her family and the secrets of the past.
Sam Angus, author of the World War I historical novel Soldier Dog, takes readers to World War II-era Great Britain in her new novel. Like other children, Wolfie and his older sister Dodie have been sent by their caretaker to the countryside to protect them from London bombing raids. Their beloved Pa has returned safely from the war, but their joy is short-lived, as Pa is being held and tried for cowardice.
When Jade gets caught making up school reports about her summer vacations, her parents send her to have a real summer adventure in Wyoming with her aunt. From stargazing on the roof to meeting a boy who claims to be related to Butch Cassidy, Jade’s world starts rapidly expanding. Skies Like These isn’t all sunny weather, but even the storms make for great slumber parties.
According to author Jessica Lawson, Tom Sawyer was a tattletale and Becky Thatcher was the real rascal getting into all sorts of trouble in St. Petersburg, Missouri. That’s the inventive premise of this gem of a chapter book that stirs up all of the ingredients of the American classic to create a thoughtful, energetic new debut novel.
What happens when a group of middle school geniuses trains for months to win a special contest at a Disney World-style Florida theme park called Incredo Land? That’s the premise of Bringing Down the Mouse, a page-turning caper whose hero is sixth-grader Charlie Lewis, known as “Numbers,” the nerdy son of an MIT professor dad and a mom with two Ph.D.s.
S.E. Grove’s debut novel is set in 1890s Boston, a place that anyone who has read history or historical fiction set in that era will recognize—or will they? This world shares geography with our own, but thanks to the Great Disruption, which happened almost a century earlier, the Earth’s regions became unmoored from time. Although New Occident (where Boston is located) lies firmly in the 19th century, other countries are in the Dark Ages, prehistory or even the future.
Lisa Graff has written several books for middle grade readers, including the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots. Graff has an uncanny ability to give a simple story an intensity that makes you want to keep turning the pages. In her latest offering, Absolutely Almost, 11-year-old Albie is struggling with the idea that he should be “better” than he is: better at math, better at spelling, better at being cool. We asked Graff a few questions about Albie, about writing, and about fitting in.
It is true that Lisa Graff’s latest book, Absolutely Almost, brings to mind someone else’s work, but not because Graff is in any way imitative—she’s far too brilliant to sound like someone else. Lately the patrons of my school library have been asking, “Do you have any books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio?” and now I have the perfect offering. Like Wonder, Absolutely Almost is the story of a boy struggling to fit in. Unlike Auggie, however, Graff’s protagonist Albie doesn’t have any noticeable problems; he just cannot succeed at school.