Friday, April 8, 2016

April: New Middle Grade Book Releases!

April is shaping up to be an incredible month for new book releases! I received several ARCs of books arriving this month and cannot wait for several more. This post provides a quick overview of those books, arranged by arrival date. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5th

Once Was a Time is the first middle grade offering from popular YA author Leila Sales, and she knocks it out of the park. The story revolves around two best friends, Lottie and Kitty, who are growing up in Bristol, England in 1940 under the ever-expanding shadow of Hilter. Lottie's father studies time travel, and his investigations have drawn interest from many sides. A dangerous situation forces Lottie to make a choice - does she trust her father and his research? (Read the full review here.)

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker with illustrations by Marla Frazee. Waylon may be familiar to fans of Sara Pennypacker's well-regarded Clementine series, but now he has his own story. I think this book will appeal to students who love mysteries, science, and stories about friendship issues. Throw in a new student and some critical scientific observations, and you have an entertaining and engaging story! (Read my full review here.)

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks, with color by Jordie Bellaire. This later middle grade graphic novel is a fascinating historical fiction/fantasy story set in an ancient Asian-inspired city. The thrust of the story is a friendship between two unlikely characters: Kaidu, a Dao (the current ruling group), and Rat, a member of the Named - those who live and have always lived in the city, despite the swirling and changing politics at the top. This is an engaging first book in a likely series about the city, its past, and its future. (I received an ARC of this book through an entry in Publishers Weekly.)

Tuesday, April 12th

Raymie Nightingale is the newest highly-anticipated book from rock-star author Kate DiCamillo. This story goes back to her southern roots and the realistic fiction vibe of early favorite, Because of Winn-Dixie. Raymie has taken up baton twirling in an effort to win a major recognition ... and to win back her father's attention, now that he has left her and her mother for another woman. I loved the characters and enjoyed the story, but it didn't grab me quite as hard as Edward or Winn-Dixie. I look forward to hearing the opinions of others on this one. (I received an incredibly elaborate box set ARC of this book, complete with t-shirt, wristband, and candy corn from Candlewick. All opinions are my own - although many of my students were swayed by the promise of candy corn!)

Red: the true story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff. Red is the third "true story" of a fairy tale character, delving into the back story of Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf, her grandmother, and some other, intersecting tales. Though it is not necessary to have read either of the first two books in the series (Rump and Jack), there is some overlap in characters. This is a delightful and entertaining tale that many readers will enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26th

Cleopatra in Space 3: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack. Alas, no, I do not have an advanced copy of this one, but I do have a dedicated cadre of students who have been begging me, daily, about whether our pre-ordered book has arrived yet. This is a hugely popular graphic novel series in my classroom, although my students (and I) will admit by being disappointed with book two - which ends on a serious cliffhanger. We are all looking forward to a satisfying resolution in book three.

Ok, two from March I just can't help mentioning again!

Maybe a Fox (March 8, 2016) by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee. Maybe a Fox is a tug-at-the-heartstrings kind of novel but in a soft and gentle kind of way. While I miss the lyricism and unconventional structure of The Underneath, Maybe a Fox is likely to be more approachable for its intended audience. Could also be a great book for a child that has experienced loss or death, as different characters experience and express their grief in different ways. A keeper.

Summerlost (March 29, 2016) by Ally Condie. I really loved this new middle grade offering from Ally Condie. This very sweet story occurs against a background of loss and grief, as the main character's father and brother were killed in a car accident the year before. Cedar, her mom, and younger brother Miles are adjusting to their new life, and Cedar finds a strong friend in Leo, an aspiring entrepreneur and employee at the local Shakespearean summer theater, Summerlost. There's a lot to love in this book!

What are you favorite new or upcoming books?

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