‘Song for a Whale’ by Lynne Kelly is a beautiful story of a girl and a whale and the reason their lives touch

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“Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly follows her first book, the award-winning novel “Chained.” Kelly’s writing is as beautiful as ever, and the story just as touching — and perhaps more accessible to young readers as the setting is in the United States instead of India. It’s a story about Iris, who is deaf, and the connection she feels for a whale named Blue 55, who is unable to communicate with other whales.

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‘The Simple Art of Flying’ by Cory Leonardo is a sweet, poetry-filled middle grade story of two African parrots and love

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“The Simple Art of Flying” by Cory Leonardo isn’t a simple book at all. It’s filled with an erudite African grey parrot, a feisty octogenarian, an adolescent wanna-be medical doctor, and a pet store owner who shouldn’t be allowed to own even a goldfish. This middle grade tale is filled with quirky characters — both human and not — and a sweet message of acceptance and family. And family can certainly include our non-human family members.

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‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend is a suspenseful sequel in middle grade series

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“Wundersmith: The Calling of Morigan Crow” is the sequel to the first book in the “Nevermoor” series, “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow,” about a young girl who was whisked to Nevermoor just before she had been doomed to die on her 11th birthday. As an illegal immigrant in Nevermoor, the only way she can stay in Nevermoor is to pass rigorous trials to earn a place in the illustrious Wundrous Society — which she does in the first book.

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‘The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise’ by Dan Gemeinhart surprises, touches, and grabs readers

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With “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise,” Dan Gemeinhart once again shows his writing super-power ability to simultaneously amuse, touch, fascinate, and grab readers by the heartstrings as they race through this story of a girl and her father who live a peripatetic life, traveling from place to place in their rehabbed school bus.

Coyote and her father, Rodeo, have lived on Yager, their converted school bus, and traveled wherever their whims have taken them. Want to walk on the beach? They’d head for the coast. Pulled pork sandwich? The best one is at Pork Chop John’s Sandwich Shop, in Butte, Montana.

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‘Fire & Heist’ by Sarah Beth Durst is a perfect young adult fantasy/action/scifi thriller

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“Fire & Heist” by Sarah Beth Durst is a wonderful young adult fantasy. Long-time fans of this author will not be surprised that it’s engaging and boasts a fabulous plot. While she has included a lot in the story — there is some “Ocean’s Eleven” mixed up with a bit of “Wrinkle in Time” and every book with a wonderfully evil villain (think Michael Grant’s newest book, appropriately titled “Villain”) — it just boils down to a book that ends up being a quick read because the action simply doesn’t stop.

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‘The Curious Cats Spy Club’ Super Sleuth Set by Linda Joy Singleton is a lovely middle grade mystery series

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Middle grade readers will adore “The Curious Cat Spy Club” series by Linda Joy Singleton. It’s a series about three middle school kids, two girls and a boy, who get together in the first book to rescue three kittens they accidentally find abandoned in a plastic bag in a dumpster. These three kids happen to be especially talented, each in a different way, and each of their talents is needed in order to solve the mystery of who abandoned the kittens, and where they came from.

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‘Two Roads’ by Joseph Bruchac Is a Middle Grade Historical Fiction About Identity and Prejudice

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With “Two Roads,” Joseph Bruchac again demonstrates his brilliance with a novel that inspires as much as it teaches readers about a neglected part of US history, the treatment of veterans after the first World War. The compelling story also shares very much more — including ideas about morality among the hoboes of that time, prejudicial treatment of Native Americans and prejudicial treatment by Native Americans, government wrongdoing, and the importance of family and friends.

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‘Santa Bruce’ (and more) by Ryan T. Higgins Is a Picture Book That’s as Much Fun for Adults to Read as for Kids to Listen to

 

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“Santa¬†Claus Bruce” by the talented Ryan T. Higgins is a picture book that is certainly as much fun (or more) for adults to read as it is for the kids listening to the story. Higgins’ wry humor coupled with the extremely expressive illustrations make for a wonderfully satisfying picture book experience.

It’s winter and Bruce wants to stay in bed, but the mice and geese have other ideas. They want holiday spirit, and they want lots of it. They deck the halls, make eggnog, and put up the Christmas tree. Needless to say, Bruce is not in the holiday mood.

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Don’t Miss ‘The Storm Runner’ by J. C. Cervantes; the First Book in a New ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ Series

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J. C. Cervantes is the talented author who has written the first book in a trilogy about Mayan gods and the kid who is the child of one of them. It’s Rick Riordan’s “Lightning Thief” taken south to Mexico (and New Mexico). In “The Storm Runner,” Zane Obispo, who limps because one leg is shorter than the other, discovers that he is godborn, the child of one of the Mayan gods. In fact, that explains his leg because as one character tells him, humans and the gods don’t mix perfectly.

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‘The Truth About Martians’ by Melissa Savage Is A Fascinating Glimpse into UFOs from a Middle Grade Perspective

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What really happened in 1947 when a newspaper reported that an alien disk had crashed in the desert near Corona and Roswell? While the US government first reported that they had captured a spacecraft and the news was on the front page of many newspapers, the story quickly changed. It was all a mistake, the government said. The “spacecraft” was really a weather balloon.

But many people don’t believe that, and many people had already seen the strange metal pieces with even stranger purple markings. In “The Truth About Martians,” Melissa Savage decides to write about what might have happened if some children nearby not only saw the spaceship but decided to investigate the crash. What if they raced out there and arrived before the military came and swept up everything and hushed it all up?

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‘The Darkdeep’ by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs Is a True Horror Story for Middle Grade Readers

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Both Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs are seasoned writers, and that shows in their newest release, “The Darkdeep.” The story is Stephen King for kids, and the horror is all too imaginable, thanks to the well-written descriptions by both authors of the horrors that main character Nico and his friends face in a haunted cove in the Pacific northwest.

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