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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade - XXXVI



The Treasure Map of Way Down Deep by Ruth White
Goodreads
When Ruby Jolene Hurley sees the shadow of her dead pet goat Jethro dancing on his grave, that's the first hint that something strange is going on in Way Down Deep. Then, on Halloween night, Miss Arbutus senses an evil wind blowing into town, and bad things start to happen. The coal mine shuts down, one hundred men lose their jobs, and all of Way Down feels the pinch. Ruby thinks the answer to their problems is the treasure that Archibald Ward, the town's founder, supposedly buried more than two hundred years ago. Most people say the treasure is just a myth, but Ruby is determined to prove the naysayers wrong and save the day.
Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt; Alison McGhee
Goodreads
Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, better than best friends, they’d be identical twins if only they’d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn’t such a fast—faster than fast—runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they’re not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens…and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that—like their mother—her sister is gone forever.

At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born—half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast—faster than fast—and she senses danger. She’s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide.

Writing in alternate voices—one Jules’s, the other the fox’s—Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the searingly beautiful tale of one small family’s moment of heartbreak, a moment that unfolds into one that is epic, mythic, shimmering, and most of all, hopeful.
Donny's Inferno by P.W. Catanese
Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Donny Taylor was rescued from certain death in a burning building. His savior, a mysterious girl named Angela Obscura, seems to be able to walk right out of the flames. Although she appears to be a teenager, Angela is actually a millenniums-old dignitary from the underworld who needs the help of a mortal. And she’s chosen Donny.

Hades, a bizarre, cavernous world that was once filled with pitchforks, fiery pits, and dismemberments, has recently become a kinder, gentler place where people can contemplate their transgressions rather than face eternal punishment. Now known as Sulfur, the underworld went through a period of reformation punctuated by a violent revolution that left the vicious Old Guard defeated and imprisoned.

But it soon becomes apparent that the Old Guard is plotting a comeback. If they succeed, they will reignite the long-extinguished Pits of Fire with a billion souls inside. And reformers like Angela and Donny will face Annihilation: the utter destruction of the consciousness and the soul, a nothingness more final than death itself.

With everything on the line and billions of souls to protect, Donny—a mortal and outsider—becomes the key to the underworld’s salvation and the only one who can save Sulfur.


Sara Lost and Found by Virginia Castleman
Goodreads
Sisters Anna and Sara must rely on each other for strength as they face being separated by the foster care system in this heartwrenching tale of sisterhood, family, and survival.
Sara and Anna Olsen face an uncertain world. Their mother left home and may—or may not—be coming back. Their father is a drummer in a band and comes home long after the girls go to sleep—if he comes home at all. Too often, ten-year-old Sara and twelve-year-old Anna are left to fend for themselves. Then one night, three loud knocks at the door change everything: their father is in jail and social services has come to take the girls away. Rather than risk being split up, Sara and Anna decide their only option is to run away.
But the girls don’t get very far, and when the authorities catch up with them, Sara and Anna are forced back into the foster care system. Along the way, the girls encounter good people who want to help them but they also meet people who have no patience for mistakes or accidents. As Anna begins to act out or withdraw completely, Sara knows that it’s up to her to take care of her older sister. But what if she can’t anymore? What if she finds a forever home that may not include Anna? Will Sara keep the promise she made to her mother to stay with her sister or will she find the courage to do what’s best for herself?

Inspired by true events, this heartrending and hopeful novel of survival, friendship, and sisterhood, tells the tale of two sisters who must find the strength to face anything that life may throw their way.

Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell
Goodreads
A stalwart orphan sets out on a spine-tingling adventure in this wildly imaginative and darkly funny Victorian middle grade novel.
High on a cliff above the gloomy Victorian town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp, dull hotel, eleven-year-old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three dreadful aunts. Stella dreams of adventuring on the Amazon—or anyplace, really, as long as it isn’t this dreary town where nothing ever happens.
Then one night Stella sees something she shouldn’t have. Soon she finds herself on the run from terrifying Professor Stark and his gang of thugs. But how can one young girl outwit an evil magician, much less rescue his poor, mistreated assistant?

With the help of a mysterious maestro, his musical cats, and a lively girl named Gert, Stella Montgomery sets out to do just that.

Valkyrie by Kate O'Hearn

Valkyrie: Norse Goddess. Reaper of Souls. Defender of the Weak. Not someone you want to mess with…
Freya is dreading her upcoming birthday when she’ll officially have to take up her duties as a Valkyrie. She doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the legends before her—legends including her mother and sisters. And she certainly doesn’t want anything to do with humans!

Freya thinks humans are cruel, hate-filled creatures, but as she observes their world, she begins to wonder what it would be like to make friends with the girls or laugh with the boys she sees. And what would it be like to live without the fear that she could cause someone’s death with a single touch?

Then when she’s sent on her first mission, she reaps the soul of a fallen soldier with unfinished business…business that sends her on an epic quest to the mortal world. Will Freya find the true meaning of being a human, or will she finally accept the legend she is destined to become?
The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn by Sam Gayton
Goodreads
Lettie Peppercorn cannot go outside. Ma told her so right before Ma disappeared forever. So Lettie’s house is on stilts, and she is stuck with only the wind and a pigeon for a friend. Nothing exciting has ever happened to her—until the night a strange merchant appears.
He claims to be an alchemist—the greatest that ever lived—and he is here to sell Lettie his newest invention. It’s an invention that could change Lettie’s life—and the world forever. An invention called “snow.”

But snow is not the only secret he holds. The alchemist knows where Lettie’s Ma is. And Lettie will do anything to get Ma back—even if it means risking her own life.

Join the brilliant and resourceful Lettie Peppercorn as she sails across the world to reunite her family and discover the truth about herself.
The Inn Between by Marina Cohen
Goodreads
The Shining meets "Hotel California" in this supremely creepy middle grade novel about the bizarre things that happen to two girls stranded at a desert inn.
Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned.
When Quinn's best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara's parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara's family before it's too late?
Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance
Goodreads
A girl discovers she has the ability to inhabit the world of famous paintings, and tries to help a boy trapped behind the canvas.
There is a world behind the canvas. Past the paint of the canvas is a realm where art lives, breathes, creates, destroys.
Claudia Miravista loves art but only sees what is on the surface, until the Dutch boy Pim appears in her painting. Pim has been trapped in the world behind the canvas for centuries by a power-hungry witch, and now believes that Claudia is his only hope for escape. Fueled by the help of an ancient artist and some microwaveable magic, Claudia enters the wondrous and terrifying world, intent on destroying the witch's most cherished possession and setting Pim free. But in that world nothing is quite as it appears on the surface. Not even friendship.

Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Storytime: New & Notable Picture Books (17)


This week's Storytime features terrifying night animals, a bear on a (wobbly) bike, a dad anxious about the first day of school, tongue-twisters with a yak and a gnu, and a well-deserved star!

Night Animals
Written & Illustrated by Gianna Marino
Ages 3-5, Available 7/14/2015





Buy It 
Goodreads
Something’s out there in the dark!

First Possum hears it. Then Skunk. Then Wolf comes running.“What could it possibly be?” asks Bat.

“Night Animals!” the animals declare.

“But you are night animals,” Bat informs this not-so-smart crew.


Children will love the oh-so-funny animals in this twist on a cozy bedtime book.
It's really odd, but people ask me for recommendations of book featuring possums all the time - now I have a new one to recommend! This newest book from Gianna Marino follows a variety of silly characters who are terrified of the animals lurking in the dark.

Bike On, Bear
Written by Cynthea Liu; Illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Ages 4-7




 Buy It
Goodreads
Bear can do everything, except ride a bike. Discover how he overcomes his two-wheeled challenge in this irresistibly adorable picture book!

Bear can do almost anything. His one-paw pawstand is perfection. He can solve the trickiest of equations. He can even out-build a brigade of beavers. But the one thing Bear can't do? Ride a bike.

Bear tries everything to help him learn: library books, training wheels and super-cheers from his fellow animal friends. But all of those fail to get poor Bear on two wheels.The situation is looking unbearable, but an unexpected mishap might be just the thing that propels Bear to bike on!
This adorable book about perseverance and practice follows a bear that has many talents, but who struggles to ride a bike. Of course, this is a great book to share with little ones about to take off those training wheels, but it's also a fantastic choice to explore the value of hard work and determination.
 
Dad's First Day
Written & Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Ages 2-5, Available 7/7/15


Buy It

Goodreads
All summer Oliver and his dad played together, laughed together, sang together, and read together.

Now it's time for Oliver to start school!

On the first day, Oliver's dad isn't quite ready. . . . Suddenly he feels nervous. His tummy hurts, and he would rather stay home.

But Oliver isn't convinced. What if the first day is really fun? What if it's the start of an exciting year?

In this charming story of first-day jitters, acclaimed author and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka perfectly captures the mixed emotions felt by kids and their parents when big changes are afoot.
Just look at that cover! This is an absolutely wonderful read aloud for kids and parents embarking on their first year of school.
Yak & Gnu
Written by Juliette MacIver; Illustrated by Cat Chapman
Ages 3-7


Buy It
Goodreads
Lively good humor is afloat—along with an armada of adventurous animals—in this silly seafaring tale.

A romp in the river with Yak in his kayak and Gnu in his canoe leads to a safari full of unusual nautical discoveries. A goat in a boat? A calf on a raft? A whole flotilla of whales and gorillas? No matter how many other strange sailors they come across, Yak and Gnu are certain there is no other beast quite like either of them. Climb aboard for a nonsensical voyage featuring an eclectic collection of embarked animals, awash in rhyme and tongue twisters perfect for reading aloud.
I loved the rhyme and clever word play in Yak & Gnu. It reminded me a bit of Seuss.
 
I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard
Written & Illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann
Ages 5-8


Buy It
Goodreads
Rose’s teacher gives stars for spelling and neatness and giving the right answer, but Rose can’t manage to do any of those things right. Will she ever get a star from Mrs. Benson?

Rose is a distracted and creative soul. She does her best at school, but sometimes her mind wanders, and she answers the wrong question. Her reading voice is quiet, not strong and loud. And her desk—well, keeping her desk neat is a challenge. When it’s time to make thank-you cards for a class visitor, Rose’s art supplies turn her workspace—and her—into a colorful mess. But her artistic skills shine through in the gorgeous oversize card she creates. Could she possibly get a star after all? A cheerful and empowering picture book for the child whose talents lie in unconventional areas, and those still searching for their strengths.
This a fantastic book about creative personalities! In the classroom, neatness and following the rules is often rewarded, but that doesn't mean that creativity and less conventional ways of learning and expressing oneself can't shouldn't be celebrated!
 ___________________________________________

Love any of the books featured this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Light, Funny YA Summer Reads


It seems like I mostly read books with heavy themes, so sometimes I'm sorely in need of a book that will make me laugh. Here a few of my favorites in honor of summer reading!

Have you read books that fit into this category that I've missed? Let me know!


Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash
Simon & Schuster - May 2015






Buy It
Goodreads
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them...


 Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
Little, Brown - April 2015





Buy It
Goodreads
After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they'll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone's heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she's been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

 Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
Penguin - May 2014



Can anyone be truly herself--or truly in love--in a language that's not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue -- the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn't always like, and the best friend who hasn't said a word -- at least not in a language Josie understands.


Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Random House - March 2014




We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

 Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart
HarperTeen - October 2013


 

Two teenage zombies search for brains, love, and answers in this surprisingly romantic and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel with guts.

Jake Stephens was always an average, fly-under-the-radar guy. The kind of guy who would never catch the attention of an insanely popular girl like Amanda Blake-or a psychic teenage government agent like Cass. But one day during lunch, Jake's whole life changed. He and Amanda suddenly locked eyes across the cafeteria, and at the exact same instant, they turned into zombies and devoured half their senior class.

Now Jake definitely has Amanda's attention-as well as Cass's, since she's been sent on a top-secret mission to hunt them down. As Jake and Amanda deal with the existential guilt of eating their best friends, Cass struggles with a growing psychic dilemma of her own-one that will lead the three of them on an epic journey across the country and make them question what it means to truly be alive. Or undead.

 The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Hyperion - June 2010




Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.

I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot body, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?

Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.

I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Penguin - December 2010


 

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

 Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
  Penguin - April 2008




Everybody's singing, "Audrey, Wait!"

Audrey Cuttler's life hasn't been the same since that song, "Audrey, Wait!" hit the airwaves. All she wants to do is go to concerts, hang out with her friends, and maybe score a date with the cute boy who works with her at the Scooper Dooper.

But now, her ex-boyfriend's song about their breakup is at the top of the charts and she's suddenly famous! The paparazzi won't leave her alone, the tabloids are trying to make her into some kind of rock goddess, and the Internet is documenting her every move!

Will Audrey ever be able to have a normal life again? Get ready to find out, because it's time for Audrey to tell her side of the story.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Macmillan - September 2009




Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathelete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .

Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes?

If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Penguin - April 2014


 

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

 
Have you read books that fit into this category that I've missed? Let me know!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Scary Stories & Horror in MG Fiction


As a children's bookseller, I often get asked by middle grade readers to recommend scary books. Inevitably, I get a get a look from the reader's parent communicating that there's a thin line between scary and so terrifying their is going to be kid up all night. 

MG horror is one of my favorite genres because I'm a wimp it isn't bloody and gory like YA and adult horror but it's still plenty creepy! Below I've shared some of my favorite creepy MG reads that will keep your budding horror aficionados content without causing nightmares.

Have you read books that fit into this category that I've missed? Let me know!


The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Amulet - May 2014






Buy It
Goodreads
This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

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 Imaginary by A.F. Harrold; Emily Gravett
Bloomsbury - March 2015





Buy It
Goodreads
Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect.

Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?

A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

 The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham
HarperCollins - September 2014







Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned.

Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts...and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.


The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill
Algonquin Young Readers - September 2014




When 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?

 The Tickety by J.A. White
HarperCollins - May 2014


 

Hand in hand, the witch's children walked down the empty road.

When Kara Westfall was six 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 black-leaved trees swayed toward Kara and then away, as though beckoning her.

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.

 Doll Bones by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry - May 2013




Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .


The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Disney-Hyperion - September 2013


 

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

 The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell
  Random House - September 2011




Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she's confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it's a comfortable life, and if it weren't for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too.

But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too.

 The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Greenwillow Books - September 2012




Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, The Peculiar is Stefan Bachmann's riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Disney-Hyperion - July 2015


 

"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul."

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

Do have favorite recommendations for MG horror that I haven't read? Let me know!