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Middle Grade Books from the 2015 Winter Newsletter

These titles were featured in our 2015 Winter Newsletter.


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

An imaginary friend isn’t supposed to come back. Not when you’re about to go into 5th grade and are too old for such baby stuff. But Jackson can’t get rid of the 7-foot-tall tuxedo-furred cat who shows up again one night singing showtunes in the (bubble) bath. Jackson is afraid he’s going crazy—and he doesn’t need that on top of the real possibility that his mom and dad will make them move out of their San Francisco apartment back into the van, like they had to do three years ago. Humorous, poignant, and enthralling, Applegate’s new novel is a worthy follow-up to Newbery-winner The One and Only Ivan.  —Tera

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Crenshaw Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250043238
Availability: Backordered
Published: Feiwel & Friends - September 22nd, 2015

George by Alex Gino

George is a 4th-grader with a problem. She wants to play Charlotte (the wise spider from Charlotte’s Web) in the school play. She knows all the lines and she’s the one who cried the hardest at the ending. But only girls get to play Charlotte, and according to everybody except George, she’s a boy. Not even her loopy but loyal best friend gets it, nor her loving (and concerned) mother. George has always known she’s a girl, but how can she break it to the people closest to her? George has already won the hearts of a wide range of readers, and if you’ll let her, she is sure to charm you too.  —Tera

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George Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545812542
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Scholastic Press - August 25th, 2015

The Octopus Scientists by Sy Montgomery

Don your snorkel and swim alongside a half-dozen scientists as they search for octopuses in the coral reefs of Moorea, a small island just northeast of Tahiti in the South Pacific. In this latest addition to the Scientists in the Field series, author Sy Montgomery vividly describes the day-to-day work of this octopus team, from their vexing search for these very sneaky creatures to the personality tests they administer to each octopus they find. The chronicle of this snorkeling adventure is punctuated with details of the alien-like physiology of the octopus—with its brain wrapped around its throat and more than half its nerve cells in its arms—as well as the author’s very personal connection to Athena, an octopus who lived at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Captivating underwater photographs propel you to keep turning the pages in this marvel of a read-aloud for curious children and adults alike.  —Michelle

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The Octopus Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series) Cover Image
By Sy Montgomery, Keith Ellenbogen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780544232709
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - May 26th, 2015

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Tamaya is in 5th grade but she feels like she’s fallen years behind her peers socially. And Marshall, he’s in 7th grade and he hasn’t been doing so well ever since he got pegged as the fat kid. The two of them have been walking to school together for three years, although they pretend like they don’t know each other once they’re there. Marshall insists on taking a shortcut through the woods one day to avoid a fight with a bully and lands them smack in the middle of a controversy surrounding escaped “frankengerms,” a national emergency, and the survival of the human race. A thrilling, thought-provoking, funny eco-mystery from the author of Holes.  —Tera

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Fuzzy Mud Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385743785
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers - August 4th, 2015

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

When the “worst thing” happens, Suzy (Zu to her friends) embraces the only thing she understands: science. Science tells us how many heartbeats there should be in a life, it tells us how many jellyfish there are in the world, and it may just explain why her friend (her old best friend) is gone before she had a chance to make things right. Suzy stubbornly strikes out her own path to accepting a hard truth and in the process teaches us a poignant, powerful lesson about moving through loss. A stunning debut with some of the loveliest writing in this year’s crop of middle-grade books.  —Tera

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The Thing About Jellyfish Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316380867
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 22nd, 2015

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

This plump, multi-layered novel follows a musical instrument from 1933 Nazi Germany, where a boy who works in a harmonica factory is trying to rescue his father—jailed for Jewish sympathies—from a prison camp, to 1935 Depression-era Pennsylvania, where two brothers living in an orphanage attempt to stay together (the older, to protect the younger, joins Albert Hoxie’s Philadelphia Harmonica Band), to 1942 Southern California, where Ivy Maria Lopez must leave behind her school’s music program when her family becomes caretakers of a farm owned by a Japanese American family who have been recently interned in a prison camp. Each story is autonomous and compelling and then left on a knife’s edge—and the book ends (1951, New York, Carnegie Hall) with a revelation of how those stories intertwine and an assurance that music, in its beauty, has the power to mitigate bigotry and fear. A page-turner.  —Gā

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Echo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780439874021
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - February 24th, 2015

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Of all the children’s books I’ve read this year, this is the one that remains most vividly alive to me, most deserving of the Newbery. It is a very well told tale, nuanced, poignant, set in World War II Britain. Ada, 10 or 11 years old—no one has kept track—has reason not to trust any adult. She has an untreated clubfoot and her Mam’s ignorance and shame have kept her, until now, a prisoner inside their tiny, dirty London flat. When children in London are evacuated by train away fromthe daily bombings, Susan (who avers, she “is not a nice person,”) is the adult who gives Ada and her younger brother a place to stay in the country village. It’s very hard for Ada to walk and impossible for her not to ride the fat, lonely pony pining away in Susan’s field (since the death of Susan’s companion). Riding allows Ada swift movement and her first access to freedom. And Susan allows her the freedom to slowly, slowly, learn trust. This novel is a feel-good story, but a private war has been fought and won in order to get there. Achingly lovely, like reading Little Women for the first time.  —Gā

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The War that Saved My Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780803740815
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Dial Books - January 8th, 2015

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Like The Breakfast Club for middle graders—each of Goodbye Stranger’s fascinating characters is struggling not just to be themselves but to figure out who that is. Bridge wakes up on the morning of 7th grade and puts on a pair of cat ears left over from Halloween: It feels right. Emily has grown curves overnight and is getting texts from an 8th-grade boy. Tab wants to stand up for women’s rights, but it just seems to isolate her from her friends. The Newbery-winning author of When You Reach Me offers us another rich and complex web of friends and (seeming) enemies.  —Tera

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Goodbye Stranger Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385743174
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - August 4th, 2015

My Heart Is Laughing, Written by Rose Lagercrantz, Illustrated by Eva Eriksson

“First-grader Dani is always happy…but not now: she misses her moved-away best friend Ella, and the class mean-girls are bullying her. The text is funny and full of fresh, convincing detail; profuse line drawings brilliantly capture emotions through facial expressions and body language. Sweet and salty—umami for the emerging reader.” Grades 1–3. —Horn Book

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My Heart Is Laughing (My Happy Life) Cover Image
By Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781877579523
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Gecko Press - September 1st, 2014

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