Category Archives: Middle Grade

Worst Witch Series Halloween Giveaway

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We have a wonderful Halloween giveaway for you today, celebrating the BRAND NEW covers for the beloved Worst Witch middle grade book series by Jill Murphy. I grew up reading these books, and simply ADORED them. That’s why I’m so excited to see them packaged with shiny new covers, that still harken back to the editions I read, while having a fresh look for new readers.

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To celebrate the new covers, we’ve teamed up with Candlewick Press to offer one of you lucky readers a chance to win all 6 books in the Worst Witch series, featuring the new covers!

We’re giving away one set of all six books to one winner, with a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form here & tell us below why you want to win the new Worst Witch books for your chance to win! The contest runs through midnight (PT) on Wednesday, October 22nd.

And if you just can’t wait, here are the titles & order of all six books in this beloved series:

  • The Worst Witch #1
    ISBN: 9780763672607
  • The Worst Witch Strikes Again #2
    ISBN: 9780763672577
  • A Bad Spell for Worst Witch #3
    ISBN: 9780763672522
  • The Worst Witch at Sea #4
    ISBN: 9780763672539
  • The Worst Witch Saves the Day #5
    ISBN: 9780763672553
  • The Worst Witch to the Rescue #6
    ISBN: 9780763669997

About The Worst Witch:

Mildred Hubble is a trainee witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy, and she’s making an awful mess of it. She’s always getting her spells wrong and she can’t even ride a broomstick without crashing it. Will she ever make a real witch?

For the comments: Did you read the Worst Witch series growing up? Who would you share these books with now?

Book Review: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

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There’s a reason Ann M. Martin is in a class to herself when it comes to writing some of the best middle grade fiction of the last few decades. It’s because she is simply that good, and nowhere is that more clear than in her newest book, Rain Reign.

rain reignRose Howard has OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.

Martin has beautifully captured the thoughts and struggles of a young girl on the Autism Spectrum. Through Martin’s diligent work and thoughtful writing, readers glimpse Rose’s struggles and worries and thoughts. Martin allows us to see the world through her eyes.

The story itself is a simple one, yet the power of Rain Reign is in Martin’s masterful storytelling. Through Rose’s story, she captures readers’ hearts and gives them a reason to emotionally invest in the outcome. We need to know what happens; we need to see Rose through this struggle.

Filled with heartache and heart, Rain Reign is a captivating story of soaring brilliance. It reminded me, once again, of why Martin’s books were such a huge part of my childhood, and why they have stuck with me as an adult. Rain Reign is in stores today.

Get ready for Nick & Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove

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Today, I have the pleasure of sharing a really fun middle grade series with you — just in time for the release of the FOURTH book! I’m talking about Nick & Tesla, 11-year-old sibling super-sleuths.

The books are charmingly-written adventure mysteries, and each one includes a variety of interactive how-to projects. It’s the perfect way to show young readers that there is more to reading than just the words on the page — that reading can open the doors to new activities, new knowledge, new skills, and more.

Nick & Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove comes out October 7th — but here’s a refresher on the first three books, in case you’re new to this fantastic series.

nick tesla 1Nick & Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble.

When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more.

Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

nick tesla 2Nick & Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage

Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble.

When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage, the brother-and-sister duo unleash a swarm of battery-powered gizmos (which readers can make at home). Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

nick tesla 3Nick & Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle

After foiling a gang of kidnappers and fending off an army of robots, 11-year-old siblings Nick and Tesla Holt could use a little rest! But as their third mystery opens, they discover there’s a spy in their midst, searching for secrets in the home of their beloved (and slightly crazy) Uncle Newt.

Is it the new laboratory assistant? The exterminator? The housekeepers? Or someone completely unexpected? To expose the mystery agent, Nick and Tesla must engineer all kinds of outrageous contraptions, from code wheels and fingerprint powder to spy cameras and burglar detectors. Best of all, instructions are included throughout the story, so you can build the projects, too!

nick tesla 4Nick & Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove

Bright siblings—and amateur inventors—Nick and Tesla Holt are back in this fourth installment of their whiz-bang middle-grade series. This time, the twins are out to save science itself, as they race against the clock to figure out why a robotic assortment of history’s greatest scientists and inventors keeps going haywire. Is this sabotage, robo-geddon…or something more sinister? To unravel the mystery, they’ll have to keep adding all-new gadgets to their cyborg glove as they stay one step ahead of a hidden adversary.

Together with zany scientist Uncle Newt and their friends Silas and DeMarco, Nick and Tesla won’t give up until an answer is found…but can they do it before time runs out? In this book, readers will learn how to construct a super-cyborg gadget glove that has four incredible functions: LED signal light, ultra-loud emergency alarm, handy sound recorder, and UV secret message revealer. Science and electronics have never been so much fun!

 

 

Book Review: Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

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Peter Pan is kind of a jerk, and there’s no one better to let you know why than Jocelyn Hook, the daring (and, let’s admit it, much more kind-hearted) daughter of none other can Captain Hook. Her saga of surviving (and escaping) finishing school, and her quest to avenge her father’s death against the Neverland’s tick-tocking crocodile make up the rollicking adventure, Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz.

hook's revengeTwelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.

So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.

The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?

Schulz has captured all the joy and magic of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan story, and reconfigured Neverland for an all new set of adventures through Jocelyn. Schulz writes with a witty tone, her cantankerous narrator imbuing the story periodically with even more color and humor — as Jocelyn navigates the trials and tribulations of finishing school, pirating, and revenge.

There is much to say about Hook’s Revenge, but I’ll start with this: it’s a delightful story, filled with charm and wit, endearing characters, imaginative plot twists, and plenty of humor. Schulz’s charming storm is lovingly enhanced by John Hendrix’s wonderful illustrations — each one filled with action, emotions, life, and all the tiny details that bring moments from the text to life.

Hook’s Revenge is simply a delight to read. Funny and charming and magical — everything a book should be. It is in stores now.

Book Review: The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

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A charming new middle grade adventure from author Kelly Barnhill awaits readers within the pages of her latest book, The Witch’s Boy.

witch's boyWhen Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?

With a deft hand, acclaimed author Kelly Barnhill takes classic fairy tale elements–speaking stones, a friendly wolf, and a spoiled young king–and weaves them into a richly detailed narrative that explores good and evil, love and hate, magic, and the power of friendship.

A powerful story about family and friendship, love and magic, The Witch’s Boy is as delightful for adult readers as it will be for younger audiences. Barnhill weaves an enchanting story in a fantastical realm that readers will love discovering, with plenty of adventure and intrigue mixed in for good measure.

The writing itself is smart, beautiful, and lyrical — drawing in the reader with each careful turn of phrase. And that’s good, because the story itself starts out slow — so as Barnhill’s writing hooks you, it takes a while for the pace to catch up. But once it does, the characters and the magic of the story will really keep you hooked, as each new chapter unfolds.

Get bewitched by The Witch’s Boy, when it hits stores on September 16th.

More from author Lisa Schroeder: Charmed Life Series

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Besides last month’s new release The Bridge from Me to You, author Lisa Schroeder has FOUR new middle grade books coming out this year (three are already in stores). Here’s a look at the four-part Charmed Life series:

charmed life1Caitlin’s Lucky Charm

Four best friends, one lucky bracelet, and an utterly charming new middle-grade series!

Caitlin would stay at summer camp forever if she could. Her new best friends in the world, Hannah, Mia, and Libby are there. And at home? Everything’s different: Her dad is worried he might be losing his job; her mom is repainting the whole house and making the kids volunteer at a soup kitchen; and Caitlin is starting sixth grade at a new school, where none of the girls are as fun or friendly as her Cabin 7 BFFs. But Caitlin has a good-luck charm — or a good-luck charm bracelet anyway. The Cabin 7 girls bought it together, and Caitlin is taking the first turn wearing it. She’s sure it will help turn her luck around . . . but when?

charmed life2Mia’s Golden Bird

Four best friends, one lucky bracelet, and an utterly charming new middle-grade series!

Mia loves two things: surfing and photography. When she breaks her foot, she tries to stay busy, making scrapbooks, but she’s still bored. Then one day Mia’s scrapbooks catch someone’s eye: the famous actress Lacy Bell! Lacy likes to go birdwatching with her grandma. She offers to pay Mia to be their photographer. It’s perfect — until the kids at school start gossiping. Mia’s glad she has her BFF’s charm bracelet — she’s going to need it!

charmed life3Libby’s Sweet Surprise

Four best friends, one lucky bracelet, and an utterly charming new middle-grade series!

When she’s not hanging out at her family’s sweetshop, Libby loves walking her dog around London. She always meets the most interesting people — like Cedric, who’s her age and also has a dog. They become fast friends, until Libby finds out his family are the new owners of a competing store! Libby tries to keep her parents’ business a secret, because she really likes Cedric and wants to be his friend. But the secrets start adding up, and Libby needs the charm bracelet she shares with her besties to bring her some luck . . . right now!

charmed life4Hannah’s Bright Star
(In stores October 28th)

Four best friends, one lucky bracelet, and an utterly charming new middle-grade series!

It’s finally Hannah’s turn to wear the lucky charm bracelet–and not a moment too soon!

Hannah’s parents have a surprise for her, and she’s sure it’s her dream come true: a horse of her own. Instead, they’ve gotten her a mule!

Everyone says she can still ride the mule, even in the 4-H parade, but how silly will that look? Hannah is so embarrassed, and she needs the luck from her Cabin 7 BFFs’ charm bracelet more than ever!

Book Review: Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

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Adventure, freedom, and the enormity of growing up are at the heart of Katherine Rundell’s beautifully charged new novel, Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms.

cartwheeling in thunderstormsEven a life on the untamed plains of Africa can’t prepare Wilhelmina for the wilds of an English boarding school in this lovely and lyrical novel from the author of Rooftoppers, which Booklist called “a glorious adventure.”

Wilhelmina Silver’s world is golden. Living half-wild on an African farm with her horse, her monkey, and her best friend, every day is beautiful. But when her home is sold and Will is sent away to boarding school in England, the world becomes impossibly difficult. Lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of vicious schoolgirls. Where can a girl run to in London? And will she have the courage to survive?

From the author of the “witty, inventively poetic” Rooftoppers comes an utterly beautiful story that’s sure to be treasured.

I was immediately captivated by Will’s life on the African farm — the freedom and feeling of joy she finds in each little corner of her world. I could feel, smell, taste her world — the dust, the food, the animals, the savannah. Will’s Africa came to life for me within the pages of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms – so much so, that like Will, I felt cooped up and trapped by the stark contrast she faced in her English school.

With echoes of A Little Princess, Rundell uses Will’s experience being forced from her home in Africa to a constrictive school in London to illustrate the harshness of growing up. The fear that we will lose ourselves in trying to become who society wants us to be.

But ultimately, the message of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms is liberating and reassuring. Yes, we have to make sacrifices in life. Yes, growing up is hard and sometimes painful. But it does not mean letting go of the past; of who you are. It is about a shift in how you approach the world; in facing the change you can’t escape while remaining true to yourself.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms is in stores August 26th.

Middle Grade: Interview with 12-Year-Old Abby Bingham

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Every now and again I like to discuss literature with a more sophisticated and saavy reader, so I asked 12-year-old Abby Bingham to stop by Novel Novice and share what she loves about Middle Grade books.IMG_3778

*What is your favorite thing about reading?

I love being able to feel like I’m in the book. I love to get to know the character like I’m their friend. When they have a decision to make sometimes I know them so well I can pretty much know what the choice will be.

*What are your top 3 favorite books?

What the Moon Said, Percy Jackson, and Island of the Blue Dolphin. What the Moon Said was an inspiring book and I really just fell in love with the little girl this book was about. Percy Jackson is a really great book because it’s full of adventure and mystery.  I love that in a book. Island of the Blue Dolphin was just a classic and anyone who has read it would agree. It’s based on a true story so knowing that this happened just makes me wonder what she really felt as she faced these trials.

*Why do you think it’s important for kids to read? 

Books can help kids set goals if they like a character’s values or choices they make on their adventure. It can be an escape out of this crazy world and into another. When I read it helps me expand my imagination and I know others are the same way.

*What do you wish authors would write more about?

GIRLS!!!! Fantasy is my favorite genre and most are about boys. I think a good moon saidfantasy book could use a strong girl. There could be a whole other point of view to a book like this.

*If your favorite genre were an ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?

Cookies and Cream because there is good and evil (black cookies and ice cream and cream) and combined they balance each other out. If you just had evil (the cookie) it would not be as good it could be bitter. Also plain old ice cream or cream is gross or too sweet, but hen all this comes together it kind of works in a weird fantasy ice cream kind of way. 

*If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be?

If I were stranded on a deserted island I would bring Island of the Blue Dolphins because I could get some good info from that book. This could teach me how to survive in the island. Or I would bring Percy Jackson and hope he will come and save me. Also I could escape from the fright of being alone on a deserted island because that would be some I would want to escape from.

Thanks for stopping by, Abby! We hope you’ll visit again soon!

Contest: Win a copy of Deadly Delicious by K.L. Kincy

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As we wrap up our week-long feature on the magical middle grade novel Deadly Delicious by K.L. Kincy, we want to give some of you lucky readers a chance to win your own copy!

Deadly Delicious - ebook coverThe Prizes:

One winner (U.S. only) will receive a signed paperback of Deadly Delicious

One winner (Int’l) will receive an e-book of Deadly Delicious

(All prizes courtesy K.L. Kincy)

How to Enter:

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here. You can gain add’l entries by following Novel Novice & K.L. Kincy on various social media, and by commenting below.

Just tell us in the comments below … what is one magical ingredient you’d add to your own baking!

The Deadline:

This contest will run through midnight (PT) on Friday, August 1st.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Exclusive Excerpt from Deadly Delicious by K.L. Kincy

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Today we have an exclusive excerpt from Deadly Delicious by K.L. Kincy:

Deadly Delicious - ebook coverI bound up the crooked stairs and slip into the kitchen. “Mama?” I call.

No reply.

Cooling on top of Mama’s prized pink appliances, her secret-recipe DeLune DeLuxe doughnuts perfume the air with the aromas of happiness, confidence, and good luck. My head gets all whirly as I breathe in deep.

These doughnuts are pretty enough to be hanging on a Christmas tree. They’re all twinkly with sprinkles, and plump enough that I’m just itching to squeeze them. Oh, look, chocolate filling leaking from the good luck doughnut. I glance around the kitchen. The coast’s clear, so I dip my pinkie into the chocolate.

A stinging blow lands on my knuckles. Mama’s choice walnut-wood spatula.

Even though she can’t actually poof from a cloud of smoke, it still scares the bejesus out of me when she pounces like that. She’s wearing her favorite coral pink suit and pillbox hat, her hair all glossy—she must have just drove up.

“For customers only,” Mama says.

Like I don’t have any wishes of my own.

Check out more & order your copy of Deadly Delicious here!