Tag Archives: Middle grade

Add the Book “Wonder” to your Tween’s TBR Pile!

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m Lisa Orchard the bestselling author of “The Super Spies” series and I’m here today to recommend an awesome book for your tween.

Back in March, I read the book “Wonder.” So did my son. There were many lessons in that story and my son and I got to talking about a few of them. It was nice to have that kind of dialogue with him, and I chalked it up to a bonding moment between us.

The story is about Auggie Pullman, he has a birth defect that makes his face abnormal in appearance. He’s been homeschooled his whole life, but now he’s being mainstreamed into a public school. It’s the story of how Auggie deals with his peers reactions to his disability. It’s heartbreaking at times and you really feel his pain.

It’s also triumphant, because Auggie never quits even though he wants to. He’s a strong “little dude” and his strength shines through.

This is an incredible story of perseverance, empathy, and friendship. Lessons we all want our tweens to learn. I highly recommend this book. The cover and blurb are below.

How about you? Do you have any great book recommendations for tweens?

 

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

 

20111210_ABS_1296[1]Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.

Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Use your Interjections!

If you’re an American Gen X-er who’d been a zealous viewer of Saturday morning cartoons, most likely when you hear the word “Interjection” you will spontaneously break into song: “When Reginald was home with the flu, uh-huh-huh, The doctor knew just what to do-hoo…” (and experience a powerful hankering for Ovaltine. What’s up with that???).

Back in the day (the phrase my kids use when referring to that fuzzy period of my life Pre-Them), “Interjections” were an earworm that haunted me day and night. Who would’ve thunk they were actually useful in writing? Interjections convey strong emotion in cute, little, power-packed morsels. Ooh, pff, gah, bah, argh, hmphmwahaha — awwwww, huh?

So be fashionably pithy. Use your Interjections! (Yes, I also picture a wagging finger here.)

And, Gen Z-ers, if you hear your mother make a phlegmy noise that sorta sounds like “ahem,” it’s time to look up from whatever electronic device you’re using and pay attention. It’ll just get ugly from that point on.

Below are two great lists of Interjections. Tuck them away. They will come in handy.

100 Mostly Small But Expressive Interjections

Dictionary of Interjections

For those who must satisfy “The Earworm” I’ve awakened or who are looking for a new non-Taylor Swift ditty that will endlessly loop through your head >>> School House Rock! Interjections (Warning: No Auto-tune)

Elise Stokes, author of the Cassidy Jones Adventures series

Elise Stokes lives with her husband and four children. She was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time mom. With a daughter in middle school and two in high school, Elise’s understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate girls to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence. The stories in Cassidy Jones Adventures are fun and relatable, and a bit edgy without taking the reader uncomfortably out of bounds. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant, and Cassidy Jones and the Luminous are the first four books in the series.

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NEW RELEASE!

Every now and then one of our Emblazon authors releases a new book. Today is one of those days. Museum Adventures: The Maya Mystery, by Mikey Brooks, is a time-traveling adventure that can be described as The Magic Tree House meets A Night at the Museum.

coverSynopsis:

Eight-year-old Nick and ten-year-old Katie didn’t sign up to go on an adventure. They didn’t ask to be nearly killed by a jaguar, or hunt for ingredients under a volcano. They most certainly did not ask to be sacrificed by some crazy high priest at the top of a Mayan temple. But that is just what they got when they volunteered to help pack up boxes in the basement of their grandfather’s museum …well sort of.

Grandpa had warned them not to go into the Special Collections room. He had said the room was too dangerous. Nick and Katie probably should have listened. Behind that forbidden door they found a time machine—a time machine cleverly disguised as a stone obelisk. As soon as they touched it, they are whisked back to the time of ancient Maya. Nick and Katie need to solve the mystery of how to get home or they just might be stuck in a time without electronics and indoor plumbing forever!

Kindle | Paperback

Woof vs. Meow: The Battle of the Book

In the world of real things, cats win—at least by the numbers. According to the Humane Society, the US has 86 million purrfect domestic kitties but only 78 million tail waggin‘ doggies. But in the world of fictional characters (books, cartoons, movies, etc.) the situation isn’t just reversed, it’s tipped over onto its adorable, swivel-eared head. Sure, you can find examples of beloved dog and cat characters aplenty, but keep trying to name them, and you’ll run out of cat characters long before you run out of the Fido’s of fictiondom, the Cujo’s of crime, or the Lassie’s of late night.

unnamed-2On Wikipedia’s pages about fictional animal characters, the cat and dog lists are broken down into literature, comics, film, and television. The cat list offers twenty-six, including such dew-clawed notables as Garfield, the Cheshire Cat, the Cat in the Hat, Puss in Boots, Sylvester the Cat, Tom & Jerry, The Aristocats, and the cats in Stuart Little and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. They are huggable, cantankerous, acrobatic, crafty, conceited and aloof, reflecting all of the complicated feelings we have about our feline companions.

 

unnamed-1But hold onto your leashes, folks, because the dog list has two hundred and eight-five, including such well-bred personalities as Snowy from Tintin, 101 Dalmations, Bolt, Old Yeller, Snoopy, Marmaduke, Toto, the Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Scooby Doo, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Martha from Martha Speaks, Hank the Cowdog, Underdog, Einstein, Timbuktu, and on and on and on and (Down, boy!) on!  They are loyal, courageous, and food obsessed, mirroring the simpler feelings we have toward dogs.

 

But if there are so many cat lovers on this planet (and as evidence I present to you: The Internet, which is actually made of cats), why aren’t cats at least equally reflected in our most beloved forms of entertainment?  I suspect there are two main reasons:

  1. WTFPortability. Dogs love cars and walks and travel. They are at their happiest when they are on an adventure with their humans. Cats not so much. If you are featuring a cat in your book or movie, for the most part it will need to take place inside a house or within a relatively small geographical area. That’s limiting for a storyteller.
  1. Expressiveness. While cats experience emotions just as intensely as dogs, they don’t express them as clearly. A cat’s emotional signs are subtle – an ear twitch, lowered eyelids, a tail snap, sitting down with their backside guilty-dogtoward you, or planting themselves in the center of whatever is currently occupying your attention (instead of them!).  Meanwhile, dogs broadcast their feelings on hi-def with every furry inch of their being—eyes, mouth, feet, tails, head tilts, sounds—they have a visual language of emotion so expressive that we humans are known to adopt their communication methods in order to better express our own mood states. Dogs are SO expressive it feels as if they are talking to us, a fact that probably explains the plethora of talking dog characters in books and movies.

Talking dogs is something I’m a bit of an expert on because, wKT front cover 2014 with gold awardhile I am technically (full disclosure) a cat person, my award winning humorous fiction series, Kibble Talk, features a talking dog. Readers also get to hear what a cat has to say, but the main focus is on Dinky, an enormous and cantankerous Great Dane.  That earned the book a 1-star review from an avid cat-lover, but on the bright side, fans tell me they will never be able to look at their dog quite the same way again.  That’s music to my swively ears.

Where do you fall on the cat–dog continuum?  Got any fave cats or dogs of literature that I’ve missed?

 

Spooky Reads for Tweens

When the air turns cold and the leaves begin to fall from the trees you know it’s time to read a spooky book…at least it is for me. You might be thinking, “Wait! Creepy books for middle-grade readers—I don’t know…” What you might not know is that these dark tales are hot right now in the tween market—kids want to be scared! How do you know which books are just right for you or your middle-grade reader? I hope I can help with that by sharing with you some of my favorite spooky reads for the Halloween season and rate them from shivering to absolutely horrifying.

The Shiver Books:

These are the books that will give you’re the shivers.

They will not give you nightmares but instead make you jump

at things that go bump in the night.

 

graveyard-bookThe Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. This is a book about a boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts. Because they are always around you get pretty desensitized quickly that they are ghosts and I feel that removes most of the creep factor that would make this book scarier than it really is.

Summary: In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other. *The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal and is a Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel.

Another shivering tale by Neil Gaiman: Coraline

 

book1The Secret of Grimm Hill, by Linda DeMeulemeester. This one was a really fun read. I had the opportunity to exchange emails with the author and she is also delightful. This book had just enough creepy to keep you reading more. A super fun read for reluctant readers.

Summary: Winner of the OLA Silver Birch Award, and selected, Canadian Toy Testing Council’s “Great Books for Children.” Cat Peters just transferred to Darkmont High and is already desperate to get out. There’s no way her mom can afford the tuition at Grimoire, the posh, private school nearby, so when Cat hears that Grimoire is offering a full scholarship to the winners of a soccer match, she jumps at the chance! Once she makes the team, everything starts going Cat’s way. It’s as if the whole town is under a spell – all anyone cares about is the soccer game. Elated by her new celebrity status, Cat doesn’t pay much attention when her little sister, Sookie, and their bookworm neighbor, Jasper, try to tell her there’s something…just not right about the old school on the hill. But when terrible things start happening, Cat is forced to take Sookie and Jasper seriously and figure out what is going on. While investigating, Cat stumbles across a book of ancient Celtic myth and fairy lore and quickly realizes that something truly wicked is at work inside the walls of Grimoire.

More shivering tales by Linda DeMeulemeester: The Grimm Hill series

 

The Dream Keeper ChroniclesThe Dream Keeper Chronicles, by Mikey Brooks (yes, I had to throw my own books in there). This series is not as spooky as it could be—the main reason is: I was too scared to write it that way (I’m a daffodil when it comes to bad dreams). It does delve into the nightmares of kids and for some that can be pretty shiver-making.

Summary: Dreams: Dorothy called it: Oz, Alice called it: Wonderland, but Nightmares call it: HOME. When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?

Other books by myself (although not scary): The Stone of Valhalla and The Gates of Atlantis

 

case filesCase Files 13: Zombie Kid, by J. Scott Savage. This book takes me back to my own childhood where I’d watch cult classics like The Monsters Squad (note: it’s an 80’s movie and thus packed full of cuss words—now shocking to my adult ears). This has plenty of creepy moments but Savage fills the tension with comedy and makes the book both enjoyable for kids and adults. It’s well worth the read.

Summary: You hold in your hands a very dangerous record. I have collected every side of the story and every piece of evidence on case number 13. Now, in this file, you will find all you need to follow the dark adventures of Nick, Carter, and Angelo, three boys who possess an unhealthy obsession with monsters, in a town so grisly, so horrific— Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re telling it all wrong, dude. You make it sound like it’s a scary story. Ahem. Well, Nick, it is a scary story. In this volume alone, there are voodoo queens, graveyards even the dreaded Zombie King himself. Yeah, but there’s also the part where Angie gets mashed potatoes all in her face, and the part where I use my cool zombie powers to— All right, point taken. Now, if you don’t mind . . . You hold in your hands a very dangerous, very funny record, detailing the hilarious adventures of three boys who have an awesome obsession with monsters. This is the first volume. Read on if you dare. . . .

Other incredible books by J. Scott Savage: Case Files 13 series, The FarWorld Series, and The Mysteries of the Cove series

 

The Nail Biter Books:

Still not scary enough to inflict nightmares

but scary enough to keep you thinking about them long after you read them.

 

A Tale Dark and GrimmA Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz. This is a fun book because it explores the darker-original fairytales and puts a twist on them by blending them together. The narrator tries to keep things funny but it does get pretty spooky as parents try to kill their children or old ladies try to eat them. It is exactly what it says, a tale that is dark and grim.

Summary: Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm (and Grimm-inspired) fairy tales. An irreverent, witty narrator leads us through encounters with witches, warlocks, dragons, and the devil himself. As the siblings roam a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind the famous tales, as well as how to take charge of their destinies and create their own happily ever after. Because once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

Other books by Adam Gidwitz: A Tale Dark and Grimm Series, and So You Want to be a Jedi?

 

home for kidsThe Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand. This is a story about an orphanage you probably NEVER want to visit or be sent to. It’s got monsters masquerading as people running it, creepy-crawlies everywhere, and worse—children go missing after acting out or not doing what they’re told. A truly spooky read!

Summary: Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.) But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all. If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.

 

GoosebumpsThe Goosebumps Books, by R.L. Stine. These books have remained the bestselling spooky books for kids since I was a kid. That’s pretty incredible. And with the new release of the Goosebumps movie I am sure these books will continue to be popular. I like that they are shorter reads that get pretty scary but don’t delve straight into the horror.

Summary: Goosebumps HorrorLand – the best-selling horror series – is still the must-have read for true horror fans. Fright-freaks will relish this collector’s set containing all 19 titles in the HorrorLand arc, plus Welcome to HorrorLand: A Survival Guide. Readers will find themselves trapped in the theme park which becomes more and more horrific with each book. Who – or what – is behind the evil plot to assemble these kids?

For other books by R.L. Stine (because there are TONS) visit his page by clicking here.

 

nightmaresNightmares! by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller. As you might have guessed, because I wrote a book myself about kids fighting nightmares, I like these kind of spooky books that are not only scary but funny. In order to save their town these kids have to face their worst fears. It’s a pretty sweet read.

Summary: What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed. And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.

 

The Night GardnerThe Night Gardner, by Jonathan Auxier. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read a book by Jonathan Auxier now’s your chance. This one is fun! I first read his Peter Nimble book which was a delightful steampunk style book that had its own spooky moments. This one is a fun follow up about ghosts set in a Victorian world that is a creepy tale about human greed.

Summary: The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

 

The Absolutely Horrifying Books:

These are the books that will keep you up late at night because you are too scared to sleep. Yes they are downright creepy and will make you think about them long after you have finished wondering to yourself if the things in those pages might escape.

Yes! they are scary books for kids.

 

ThicketyThe Thickety: A Path Beginnings, by J.A. White. This book is rather intense…the whole series is intense. It starts off with a young girl’s mother being hanged for witchcraft. This is a downright creepy book but I loved it. I loved the chills and thrills it gave me. The second one is just as suspenseful and spooky and I am eagerly waiting the third.

Summary: When Kara Westfall was five years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic…except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr’s Realm. But mostly it’s called the Thickety. The villagers live in fear of the Thickety and the terrible creatures that live there. But when an unusual bird lures Kara into the forbidden forest, she discovers a strange book with unspeakable powers. A book that might have belonged to her mother…And that is just the beginning of the story.

Other books by J.A. White: The Thickety: The Whispering Trees

 

Doll BonesDoll Bones, by Holly Black. What kid didn’t like reading the Spiderwick Chronicles? That was pretty mild when I comes to this book on the level of scary—this one is more on the level of a horror (books about ghosts and creepy china dolls always send chills up my back!). It received a starred review from Kirkus and they don’t hand those out too freely so know the writing is awesome!

Summary: Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her. But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave. Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?

Other books by Holly Black: The Magisterium Series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Darkest Part of the Forrest, and The Coldest Girl in Town

 

SpookThe Spooks Apprentice, by Joseph Delaney. I discovered this series on audiobook and it made me jump several times as I was listening. The Last Apprentice, the first book in this horrifying series, is about a boy who is learning the trade of vanquishing witches and other dark creatures. What he encounters is just frightening. Downright fighting! It’s awesome!

Summary: A wonderful and terrifying series by a new writer about a young boy training to be an exorcist. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins …

Other books by Joseph Delaney: The Last Apprentice, The Seventh Son, and The Ghost Prison

 

Miss-Peregrine-Home-Peculiar-Children-Ransom-RiggsMiss Peregrine’s Homes for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. This book is classified as a YA but I think it’s one of those books that rests in the in-between (a tween read). This book gave me the creeps as I was reading it and it wasn’t just the monsters that take on human form but the strange kids that do or are peculiar. This is a book you want to see in print or eBook (not that the audiobook isn’t cool because the narrator does a great job) but you want to see the picture inside of the creepy children. (There is mild language in this one).

Summary: A mysterious island…An abandoned orphanage…A strange collection of very curious photographs…It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Other books by Ransom Riggs: Hollowed City, and Library of Souls

 

My Personal Remedy for being scared:5268d5b5-c672-4eb0-9d11-69b463823b5e

Sleep with the lights on!

 Let me know if you find lists like this helpful as I will most likely be posting again. So that’s it for now. Read and be scared! ~Mikey Brooks