Hey Kid Lit friends,
Buckle in, because I have A LOT of books to talk about! Before I get to the huge list of new releases coming out this Tuesday, let’s talk about spooky middle grade books. I’ve been planning this list for months; there are so many new, super creepy, middle grade books that are perfect for young readers who love to be scared. (If you want gentler Halloween reads, I’ll have a Halloween picture book themed newsletter next Sunday!)
Sponsored by Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches.
You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.
Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?
The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith
Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London’s supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces?
Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea.
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (11/14, Dutton Children’s Books)
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way) and she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days scrubbing the skins and souls of the dead in preparation for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore not only her ever-increasing loneliness, but the way her overworked hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair. But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appear, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie (10/10, Aladdin)
Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones. When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.
Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness by Hal Johnson
Meet the snoligoster, who feeds on the shadows of its victims. The whirling whimpus, who once laid low an entire Boy Scout troop. And the hoop snake, who can chase prey at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and then, with one sting of its venomous tail, cause it to turn purple, swell up, and—alas—die. These and 17 other fearsome creatures are among the most fantastical beasts in American folklore. Their stories, as narrated by one of the last surviving cryptozoologists, are best enjoyed while sitting around a campfire. If you dare.
Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller
Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago.
Monsterland by James Crowley
It’s Halloween, and everyone in Charlie’s small town is excited for this year’s festivities. Charlie’s grandfather, Old Joe, is famous for his holiday haunts, and his pumpkin patch is the center of the town’s zealous celebrations. But when Charlie runs into some neighborhood bullies who are after his candy, he heads off into the woods to escape. He quickly gets lost, but spots a kid who he thinks is dead cousin Billy. As Charlie chases after him deeper and deeper into the woods, he finds himself entering Monsterland—a mysterious place where werewolves live amongst trolls and goblins.
Monsters Unleashed by John Kloepfer
Freddie Liddle has a big problem: Monsters. Giant, fire-breathing, electric-shocking, bone-crunching monsters are attacking his town. Even worse, it’s Freddie’s fault. After drawing monsters based on the meanest bullies in his class, Freddie used his school’s 3D printer to make models of them. But the last thing he expected was that the monsters would come to life and keep growing, and GROWING, and GROWING.
Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella
Twelve-year-old Stanly knows the bone growing in his yard is a little weird, but that’s okay, because now he’ll have the perfect photo to submit to the Young Discoverer’s Competition. With such a unique find, he’s sure to win the grand prize. But, oddly, the bone doesn’t appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full skeleton . . . one that only children can see.
Death and Douglas by J.W. Ocker (11/26, Sky Pony Press)
Douglas has grown up around the business of death. Generations of his family have run the Mortimer Family Funeral Home. The mortician and gravediggers are all his buddies. And the display room of caskets is an awesome place for hide and seek. It’s business as usual in Douglas’s small New England town. Until one day an incredibly out of the ordinary murder victim is brought to the funeral home. And more startling: others follow. On the cusp of Halloween, a serial killer has arrived.
Okay, so this list is a doozy. So many awesome titles out this Tuesday, and these are my favorites!
Picture Book New Releases
Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller (Penguin Random House)
Snappsy the alligator wants nothing more than a quiet evening to himself, but a pesky chicken who insists he’s Snappsy’s best friend won’t leave him alone.
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg (HarperCollins)
Did you know that the earth is covered in three trillion trees? And that seven billion people weigh about the same as ten quadrillion ants? Our world is full of constantly changing numbers, from a hundred billion trillion stars in space to thirty-seven billion rabbits on Earth. Can you imagine that many of anything?
That Is My Dream! by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Random House)
Langston Hughes’s inspiring and timeless message of pride, joy, and the dream of a better life is brilliantly and beautifully interpreted in Daniel Miyares’s gorgeous artwork.
After the Fall by Dan Santat (Roaring Brook Press)
Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?
The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe (Little, Brown)
Once there was a bad mood and a stick.
The stick appeared when a tree dropped it.
Where did the bad mood come from?
Who picked up the stick?
And where is the bad mood off to now?
You never know what is going to happen.
The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Simon & Schuster)
What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library!
Dough Knights and Dragons by Dee Leone, illustrated by George Ermos (Sterling)
A curious knight and an amiable dragon meet serendipitously, and instantly bond over their shared love of baking. But the friends are filled with sadness when, according to the law, the two must duel one another.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët (Little, Brown)
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
Chapter Book New Releases
Charlie and Mouse and Grumpy: Book 2 by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes (Chronicle Books)
In this heartwarming sequel to Laurel Snyder’s beginning chapter book Charlie & Mouse, the two brothers enjoy a special visit from their grandpa, Grumpy.
Freddie Ramos Rules New York (Zapato Power) by Jacqueline Jules (Albert Whitman)
Freddie and his mom are visiting Uncle Jorge in New York City! Just before they leave, Mr. Vaslov gives Freddie a new pair of zapatos to replace the ones that were getting too small. But Freddie worries if his new zapatos will work as well as his old ones.
Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet: Who Gives a Hoot by Jacqueline Kelly (Henry Holt & Co)
Out in their boat exploring the San Marcos River, Callie and Granddaddy see all kinds of nature―fish, mockingbirds, ammonites, and more. But when Callie spots an owl in the water, she knows it’s in trouble.
Middle Grade New Releases
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Penguin Random House)
In this sequel to Newbery Honor book The War That Saved My Life, Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last and she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?
AHIMSA by Supriya Kelkar (Tu Books)
In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle.
The Adventurer’s Guild by Zach Loren Clark and Nick Eliopulos (Disney-Hyperion)
In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone’s only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly handsome son of merchants, is confident he’ll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild.
Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem.
Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher (HarperCollins)
Siblings Jemima and Jake Button don’t know what to make of their new babysitter, Marge with her rainbow hair and adventurous spirit.
The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall (HarperCollins)
Josie Shilling’s family is too big, their cramped city house is too small, and she feels like no one’s ever on her side. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, her older brother, Tom, brings home a piglet he rescued from a nearby farm.
Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy (Penguin Random House)
When twelve-year-old Gertie Milk washes up on the island of Skuldark, she finds that all of her memories are gone. Home to helpful Slug Lamps, delicious moonberries, and a ferocious Guard Worm, the island is full of oddities, including a cozy cottage containing artifacts from every corner of history.
Greetings from Witness Protection by Jake Burt (Macmillan)
The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.
The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea (Random House)
No one likes or wants to take the statewide assessment tests. Not the students in Mrs. Woods’s sixth-grade class. Not even Mrs. Woods. It’s not as if the kids don’t already have things to worry about. . . .
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (Little, Brown)
Once there were Wizards, who were Magic, and Warriors, who were not. But Xar, son of the King of Wizards, can’t cast a single spell. And Wish, daughter of the Warrior Queen, has a banned magical object of her own. When they collide in the wildwood, on the trail of a deadly witch, it’s the start of a grand adventure that just might change the fabric of their worlds.
Mice of the Round Table: Voyage to Avalon by Julie Leung (HarperCollins)
Young mouse Calib Christopher has nearly completed his training to become a squire to the Knights of the Round Table when news of a deadly plague comes to the castle.
Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Eleven-year-old Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at?
Graphic Novel New Releases
Secret Coders: Robots and Repeats by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (Macmillan)
Dr. One-Zero has added a new class to Stately Academy’s curriculum. But in “Advanced Chemistry,” they only teach one lesson: how to make Green Pop! While their classmates are manufacturing this dangerous soda, the Coders uncover a clue that may lead them to Hopper’s missing dad. Is it time to use Professor Bee’s most powerful weapon: the Turtle of Light?
If that’s enough reading for you, check out these great ebook deals:
Perfect Season (Football Genius Series Book 6) by Tim Green is $1.99
In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson, illustrated by Patrice Barton, is $1.99.
This week I’m listening to the audiobook of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and reading Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream by Monica Brown and Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter. I’d love to know what you are reading this week! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at email@example.com.
One last thing: some of you might know that I am a children’s book writer. My debut novel, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, is coming out this Tuesday with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers! It’s a middle grade book about a family of five kids living in Harlem who just find out that their curmudgeonly landlord and upstairs neighbor is not renewing their lease. They have eleven days to convince him to let them stay in their beloved home… can they do it?
Until next time,
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