September Middle-grade releases

There are a LOT of wonderful middle-grade books being released during September, so I’ve decided to do a post to highlight the ones I want to get, and there’s a lot I want to get. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a few proofs, but I always want to get the final copy as well. These are the current release dates which can change, but as it’s getting closer to September, I’m hoping these will all be released on schedule.

Synopsis: Kate and her younger brother Tom lead desperately uninteresting lives. And judging by their desperately uninteresting parents, the future isn’t much more promising. If only life was like it is in books, where you have adventures, and save the world! Even Kate’s 11th birthday is shaping up to be mundane — that is, until her mysterious and highly irresponsible Uncle Herbert surprises her with the most unexpected, exhilarating birthday present of all time: a real-life steam locomotive called The Silver Arrow. Kate and Tom’s parents quite sensibly tell him to take it back, but Kate and Tom have other ideas — and so does The Silver Arrow — and very soon they’re off on a mysterious journey along magical rails. On their way, they pick up a pack of talking animals: a fishing cat, a porcupine, a green mamba, a polar bear, and the sweetest baby pangolin in the world. With only curiosity, fear, adrenaline, and the thrill of the unknown to guide them, Kate and Tom are on the adventure of a lifetime — and they just might save the world after all. 

Synopsis: Sometimes at the darkest hour, hope shines the brightest… When Col’s childhood imaginary friends come to life, he discovers a world where myths and legends are real. Accompanied by his guardians – a six-foot tiger, a badger in a waistcoat and a miniature knight – Col must travel to Blitz-bombed-London to save his sister. But there are darker forces at work, even than the Nazi bombings. Soon Col is pursued by the terrifying Midwinter King, who is determined to bring an eternal darkness down over everything.

Synopsis: After his adventure on the Highland Falcon, amateur sleuth Hal Beck is excited to embark on another journey with his journalist uncle. This time, they’re set to ride the historic California Comet from Chicago to San Francisco. Hal mostly keeps to himself on the trip, feeling homesick and out of place in America. But he soon finds himself drawn into another mystery when the young daughter of a billionaire tech entrepreneur goes missing! Along with new friends—spunky 13-year-old Mason and his younger sister, Hadley—Hal races against the clock to find the missing girl before the California Comet reaches its final destination.

Synopsis: Leonard has never had a name. Or a body. Or a best friend. But he is excited to try being a human. On their three-hundredth-birthday, every alien from Leonard’s home galaxy gets to spend a month in the body of an Earth Creature. Leonard was supposed to become a forest ranger in Yellowstone National Park – but there was a mix-up. And now he’s stuck as a stray cat. Luckily for Leonard, he meets a young human called Olive – and together they set out on a journey to find home. 

Synopsis: Emily must battle the greatest evil that has threatened The Midnight Hour. Can she keep its magic from leaking into the real world? They must have come from under beds, out of mirrors, up from caves, and down from attics, all out of the darkness and into the moonlight. They were the Night Folk, and this was their world. Now that Emily knows that her blood ties her to The Midnight Hour, she feels more connected to this frozen pocket of time than ever. But not only does she have to come to terms with her new identity as a Pooka, her parents also had to go and have another baby. And how weird is that? Life is feeling frustrating from all angles… But when Emily begins to encounter strange happenings within The Midnight Hour, her worst fears are confirmed: there is a hole in the Hour and it is leaking magic. Whoever is going through it is making the tear worse and worse, posing a threat to the survival of the whole world. With Emily’s parents distracted with the new baby, it’s up to Emily to find the hole and help fix it. 

Synopsis: The first in a funny, deliciously dark, three-part series of twisted classics, written in verse by award-winning poet Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Freya Hartas. A yellow moon hangs in a satin sky the night Cinderella, barefoot and in hand-me-downs, slips at the top of the stairs … and dies. But not for long. The Shadow of Death arrives to breathe life back into her bones and, for three nights only, Cinderella goes forth as ZOMBIERELLA. With her skin as cold as ice and her faithful horse Lumpkin back by her side, can she seek revenge on her three cruel, fake sisters, once and for all? Crawl out of the grave and step into your mushroom carriage for this haunting and humorous adventure of the undead girl searching for her happily ever after.

Synopsis: Deep within the mountain, a great creature stirred in its sleep. Its eyes rolled back in its head, and its wings jerked wide open…When 12-year-old Billy Chan finds out his parents are sending him to a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China he doesn’t know what to expect. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte and Ling-Fei and together they stumble upon an age-old secret: four powerful warrior dragons, hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp. They have been trapped since an epic battle with the Dragon of Death and need the children’s help to set them free before terrible evil is unleashed on the earth. Billy and his friends must set off on a dangerous adventure that will take them to the heart of the Dragon Realm. But can they save the dragon and human worlds from destruction? 

Synopsis: Twig is the last surviving apprentice of the great wizard Ripplemintz, which, as a job, is just as terrifying as it sounds. Oh Ripplemintz always means well, but for a wizard of such high regard he really does make an awful lot of mistakes. And who’s always left to clear them up? That’s right – Twig. So when Ripplemitz’s most powerful spell is let loose on the world, off Twig goes to catch it. And catch it he does, except… not quite in the way that he intended. Because, instead of catching it in an enchanted jar, Twig sort of… well… catches it in… HIMSELF.

Synopsis: Milo, loyal to his double-crossing, business-mogul father, has taken a trip to Black Hole Lake, leaving Lucy to continue her search into alien life and the Truth that she knows is out there. Milo’s discovery of a sinister, dark creature in the Lake will put them both in terrible danger and also – if they survive their adventure – make them friends again.

Synopsis:  Tamarind never knew her Indian mum, Chinty, who died soon after she was born. So when she arrives at her ancestral home, a huge mansion in the Himalayas surrounded by luxuriant gardens, she’s full of questions for her extended family. But instead of answers, she finds an ominous silence – and a trickle of intriguing clues: an abandoned hut, a friendly monkey, a glowing star ring, and a strange girl in the garden who calls herself Ishta. Slowly, Tamarind unravels a mystery at the heart of who she is …

Synopsis: Welcome to the dazzling new world of Quicksmiths, where you will encounter Strange Energy, the Mowl, Wormholes, Dark Forces and the tantalising riddle of the Ark of Ideas. When Kip Bramley receives a cryptic invitation, delivered by a beetle shaped drone which appears to be breathing, his world will change forever. Soon he finds himself chasing riddles and solving puzzles on a crazy treasure hunt set 400 years earlier by a mysterious genius. As things get dangerous, it seems much more is at stake for Kip and his family than winning top marks at his strange new school…

Synopsis: A haunting story of friendship, courage, time-travel and a very special crow. It is January 6th 1928, a few days before the Great Flood. Glory Bobbin, a twelve year-old orphan, works at The Frippery and Fandangle Emporium creating jewellery with her secret assistant, a peculiar crow. The river is about to burst its banks and a snow storm has engulfed the town when she meets treasure-hunting mudlark, Needle Luckett, who has travelled through time to reach Inthington. Can two children and a crow save the fourteen lives endangered by the flood? Can they change the future?

Synopsis: Xar and Wish are on the final leg of their journey. First stop: The Mines of Unhappiness. Here, starvation is never far away for the Magical creatures who toil in its horrible depths. Xar and Wish must escape and fast; Xar needs to take control of his ever-growing Witchstain, and Wish must achieve her Destiny. But the Tazzelwurm is in their way, a grotesque monster who threatens to block every entrance. Time is not on their side, but the forests are calling them. Will their combined strength be enough for the BIGGEST quest so far; to defeat the Kingwitch once and for all?

Synopsis: Aveline Jones loves reading ghost stories, so a dreary half-term becomes much more exciting when she discovers a spooky old book. Not only are the stories spine-tingling, but it once belonged to Primrose Penberthy, who vanished mysteriously, never to be seen again. Intrigued, Aveline decides to investigate Primrose’s disappearance.Now someone… or something, is stirring. And it is looking for Aveline.

Synopsis: Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world. But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see.

Synopsis: October and her dad live in the woods. They sleep in the house Dad built for them and eat the food they grow in the vegetable patches. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They read the books they buy in town again and again until the pages are soft and yellow – until next year’s town visit. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that’s the way it is. Until the year October turns eleven. That’s the year October rescues a baby owl. It’s the year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October’s mother comes back. The year everything changes.

Synopsis: Freja arrives in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, when old spirits are said to roam the streets and families must make offerings to appease their ancestors. She’s homesick for her Danish hometown and isn’t sure she fits in with the ‘happy family’ of her father, her step-mother and twin step-brothers. As Freja tries to settle into her new life, a mysterious girl in a white dress starts to appear to her, seeming to beckon her on. Following this figure, Freja begins to unravel an old family mystery – one that must be solved before the month is over, to allow both girls to be freed from secrets long-buried. 

New feature: #MGTakesOnThursday

It will be my blogiversary on 11th April which also happens to be my wedding anniversary!  Six years of marriage, and one year of blogging! At least I’ll always remember my blogiversary although, on reflection, I do wonder why I started a blog on this date! I wanted some way of marking this occasion, so I’ve made a decision to be brave and introduce something new to my blog …

So, what have I decided to do?

I started my blog after re-igniting my love for reading, and the books I love are most definitely middle-grade.  I have been thinking for a while about what I’d like to do to celebrate both my blogiversary, and my love of middle-grade books, so I’m taking a chance on trying introducing something new … even if I’m the only one who takes part!

I’ve decided to start a weekly feature to celebrate and recommend middle-grade books.  It is called Middle-Grade Takes on Thursday and is, quite simply, a celebration of middle-grade children’s books. I’d love if others could take part in this feature!

How do I join in with #MGTakesOnThursday?

I hope this will be a straightforward and enjoyable feature to take part in, and that it brings some attention to some great middle-grade books. If you would like to use the banner I’ve created (through Canva), please feel free to use it.

The steps to take part are below.

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

Right, I’m going to road test this, and give it a go!

Author: Dominique Valente
Illustrator: Sarah Warburton
Publisher: Harper Collins

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

Willow had answered a knock on the attic window only to find herself confronted by a rather grumpy oak tree with a face carved deep within its trunk.

This book in three words:

MAGICAL, ADVENTUROUS, HUMOROUS

Everyone, regardless of age, should treat themselves to this heart-warming, enchanting story filled with adventure, warmth and humour:  a treasure of a story that sparkles with a special kind of magic that captures and holds the reader under its spell! Read more in my review.

How did I do? Is this a feature you would like to take part in?

The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth

This is an enchanting story, full of adventure, danger and hidden secrets, waiting to be discovered.  But it is also a story of heritage, self-discovery and acceptance.

Minnow lives aboard The Seafarer (a stunning pirate boat with a mermaid figurehead) with her mother, Mercy, and faithful husky, Miyuki.  She is naturally drawn towards the water, and feels out of place and awkward on land. 

The story opens with the kidnapping of her mother by three men who believe that Mercy is the key to help them capture a mermaid.  Isn’t the existence of mermaids just part of old myths and folklore, so why are they adamant that her Mum can help them capture one?  What secrets has she been withholding from her daughter?

Left with strict instructions to go to her Grandmother in Iceland, Minnow travels there aboard The Seafarer where she meets Raife, who shares her love of the sea.  Minnow has no intention of staying safe at her Grandmother’s, but has every intention of rescuing her mother before it is too late.  Once at her Grandmother’s, Minnow makes a startling discovery.  Because of who she really is, she has the power to open the Gateway to the secret Wild Deep and venture across it in a desperate and urgent mission to free her mother. 

The world of the Wild Deep is exquisitely revealed, and creates a real sense of wonder and beauty, not only at the landscape but also at the dazzling seafolk of lore which Minnow and Raife find there.  They are both beautiful and dangerous, with some prepared to help and others to hinder.   They emit a real sense of threat and menace which creates plenty of action and tension as the children try to outwit and escape from them as they struggle to cross this new world.  Will the Deep release Minnow to allow her to attempt to rescue her mother?  Will there be a price to pay?  Will Minnow be imprisoned there, unable to leave, or will she be free to travel in both worlds?

Minnow is a strong, courageous, quick-witted girl who is willing to face her fears, fight for survival in dangerous situations and make difficult decisions to protect her friends.  She builds a close bond with Raife as they come to trust, rely on and protect each other.  She is a girl of two worlds who is resolved to fit into both, with all the determination, strength and courage that this demands.

A fascinating read for children of 8+.

The Apprentice Witch

“Oh, jinxing-jiggery!”  What an absolutely bewitching read this was. 

Despite failing her evaluation to become a fully-fledged witch, Arianwyn Gribble, is sent to Lull, which hasn’t had a resident witch for many years, to continue her apprenticeship.  She is soon taking on the role of town protector, making charms and banishing dark creatures, although everything doesn’t always go according to plan:  don’t mention the snotlings!

Just as Arianwyn is beginning to fit in, her life is turned upside down by the arrival of someone from her past, which causes all sorts of difficulties, and danger, for Arianwyn and the inhabitants of Lull.

This wonderfully-imagined world has a fascinating collection of creatures:  terrifying, awesome, endearing, pesky. The story is full of fast-paced action and build-up of tension, which kept me turning page after page … until I got to the end … and was left with that warm sigh of contentment I get from finishing a genuinely good book.  I’m so glad there are two more in this series for me to enjoy:  A Witch Alone and A Witch Come True.

Where do I begin with Arianwyn?  She is such an amazing character, and one of my new favourites in middle-grade fantasy.  Despite being full of self-doubt, she is kind-hearted and determined to try her best, not only thinking of others before herself, but always being prepared to see the best in everyone.  Her courage and strength of character shine through, despite her fear and doubt, so that she is able to control her demons in the town’s greatest moment of need.

I can’t wait to introduce this fantastic book to my class, who I know will adore Arianwyn as much as I do.