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Book Review: Grades 5-8 Fiction | July 2013

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Grade 5-8 Book Covers

School Library Journal starred reviewsAPPELT, Kathi. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. illus. by Jennifer Bricking. 384p. S & S/Atheneum. July 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2105-9; ebook ISBN 978-1-4424-8121-3. LC 2012023723.
Gr 3-7
–Appelt returns with a rich tale set deep in a Texas swamp, full of critters including gators, rattlesnakes, and feral hogs. Brothers Bingo and J’miah are true-blue scouts (raccoons) who have set up house in an abandoned old DeSoto, adorning it with their artwork and following orders from the Voice of Intelligence (actually the lightning-enabled car radio). The young raccoons are affable and easy to root for as they attempt to stop the gang of wild hogs intent on destroying their beloved Muscovado sugar cane. Woven throughout the 104 short chapters, delivered by a rollicking omniscient third-person narrator, are other stories–greedy Sonny Boy Beaucoup, who is only interested in tearing up Sugar Man Swamp to make room for the Gator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park; and young Chap Brayburn, who is intent on being the man in the family and protecting his mother and their Paradise Pies Café (with pies made from the swamp’s sugar cane). As anticipation builds, Bingo and J’miah set out on a quest to wake up the elusive Sugar Man–a Yetilike creature that guards the swamp. Appelt has adeptly intertwined the folksy narrative of a tall tale with a perfect blend of adventure and mystery, all the while subtly bringing an ecological message to the surface.–Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

School Library Journal starred reviewsHERRICK, Amy. The Time Fetch. 320p. Algonquin. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-61620-220-0.
Gr 5-8
–This transcendent middle-grade debut could almost be subtitled “A Young Person’s Guide to Existentialism.” The opening scene presents Edward struggling to get out of bed with the knowledge that “it was all dancing atoms. Nothing was solid.” It’s not a depressing novel, though. The story is strange and beautiful, with profundity hiding in the mundane while science and magic come to a comfortable alliance. After convincing himself to leave his bed, Edward has to find a rock for a science project. The rock turns out to be a Fetch, a magical vessel for small glints of light called Foragers, who collect and feed off unmissed moments of time. But when the mean girl steals Edward’s rock and is in turn kidnapped by three evil hags in the classic tradition, the Foragers are let loose and begin wreaking havoc on Brooklyn’s temporality. It is up to Edward and three mismatched schoolmates (the popular guy, the nasty girl, and the silent newcomer) to return the Foragers to the Fetch and save the world. The narrative seems to follow a well-trodden path (Brooklyn, fairies, unexpected friendship) but the introduction of scientifically based ennui as well as a deep thread of pagan traditions provides an accessible, age-appropriate introduction to deeper themes of both the intellect and the spirit. But it’s not heavy–the plot is suspenseful, moves at a rapid pace, and is heavily sprinkled with fascinating characters. Despite the well-wrapped-up ending, this book screams for a sequel.–Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City

School Library Journal starred reviewsPECK, Richard. The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail. illus. by Kelly Murphy. 240p. Dial. July 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3838-6. LC 2012027992.
Gr 4-6
–Mouse Minor is the smallest mouse in the Royal Mews of Queen Victoria’s Buckingham Palace. Raised by kindly Aunt Marigold, he has no real family. He doesn’t even have a proper name–just a nickname. All he knows is that his mother was not a Mews mouse and that his oddly twisted tail marks him as different from his classmates at the Royal Mews Mouse Academy. Mouse Minor violates a cardinal rule of mouse society by accidentally allowing a human to see him dressed in his school uniform. Disgraced, he runs away, hoping to find some clues about who he is and where he came from. His quest takes him from the stables to the palace parade grounds to Victoria’s private chambers, but even the great Queen herself can’t give him all the answers he seeks. Set against the background of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee, the story portrays a secret animal society existing in the shadows of the human world. Mice, cats, horses, and other creatures have schools, armies, titles, and industries. Cultural attitudes and social ranks parallel the human ones, although because of the difference in life spans, the animal society moves a bit faster. Attractive mouse’s-eye-view drawings help establish the relationship between these two halves of Victorian society. With a plucky hero, exciting plot, and a satisfying, if somewhat predictable resolution, Peck’s latest is a gentle homage to old-school adventure tales.–Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL

The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Grades 5-8 Fiction

ABDEL-FATTAH, Randa. The Friendship Matchmaker Goes Undercover. 208p. Walker. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-3485-3.

ARMSTRONG, K. L. & M. A. Marr. Loki’s Wolves. Bk. 1. 360p. (The Blackwell Pages Series). illus. Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-316-20496-5. LC 2012029851.

BOSCH, Pseudonymous. Write This Book: A Do-It-Yourself Mystery. illus. by Gilbert Ford. 276p. (Secret Series). Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-20781-2.

BURNS, T. R. A World of Trouble. Bk. 2. 384p. (Merits of Mischief Series). S & S/Aladdin. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4032-6; ebook ISBN 978-1-4424-4034-0.

CAMERON, Anne. The Lightning Catcher. 416p. illus. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211276-7; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211278-1. LC 2012042848.

CASTRO, Adam-Troy. Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault. Bk. 2. illus. by Kristen Margiotta. 248p. Grosset & Dunlap. 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-448-45834-2. LC 2012012898.

COLUMBUS, Chris & Ned Vizzini. House of Secrets. illus. by Greg Call. 496p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219246-2.

DANESHVARI, Gitty. Ghoulfriends Just Want to Have Fun. Bk. 2. illus. by Darko Dordevic. 262p. (Monster High Series). Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-316-22253-2. LC 2012048544.

DE LINT, Charles. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. illus. by Charles Vess. 285p. Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-316-05357-0. LC 2011042982.

FARRANT, Natasha. After Iris. 260p. Dial. July 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3982-6.

FLEMING, David. The Saturday Boy. 261p. Viking. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-78551-3. LC 2012029680.

FROST, Helen. Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War. 160p. glossary. Farrar/Frances Foster. July 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-374-36387-1. LC 2012029521.

GARZA, Xavier. Maximilian and the Bingo Rematch: A Lucha Libre Sequel. illus. by author. 208p. Cinco Puntos. July 2013. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-935955-59-7; pap. $12.95. ISBN 978-1-935955-46-7; ebook $12.95. ISBN 978-1-935955-47-4. LC 2012043173.

GOLDBLATT, Mark. Twerp. 275p. Random. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97142-6; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97143-3; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97144-0. LC 2012005033.

GOLDEN, Laura. Every Day After. 224p. Delacorte. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-74326-6; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-99103-5; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-307-98312-1. LC 2012015770.

GRABENSTEIN, Chris. Riley Mack Stirs Up More Trouble. 325p. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-202622-4; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-220297-0. LC 2012022148.

HAIG, Matt. To Be a Cat. illus. by Stacy Curtis. 304p. S & S/Atheneum. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5405-7; ebook ISBN 978-1-4424-5407-1. LC 2012028520.

HARRISON, Mette Ivie. The Rose Throne. 400p. Egmont USA. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-365-9.

HAWKINS, Rachel. School Spirits. 297p. Hyperion/Disney. 2013. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-4849-4. LC 2012046402.

HEALY, Christopher. The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. Bk. 2. illus. by Todd Harris. 480p. (Hero’s Guide Series). HarperCollins/Walden Pond. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211845-5. LC 2012050668.

HOLT, Christopher. Dark Waters. Bk. 2. illus. by Allen Douglas. 324p. (The Last Dogs Series). Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-316-20012-7. LC 2012030639.

HUGHES, Alison. Poser. 160p. Orca. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-4598-0147-9; ebook $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4598-0149-3. LC 2012952942.

JONES, Ursula. Star Turn. 368p. glossary. Inside Pocket. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-9084581-6-2.

KITTREDGE, Caitlin. The Mirrored Shard. Bk. 3. 304p. (Iron Codex Series). Delacorte. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73833-0; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90722-4; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98570-6.

KLINE, Lisa Williams. Winter’s Tide. Bk. 4. 240p. (Sisters in All Seasons Series). Zonderkidz. 2013. pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-310-72619-7.

MADDISON, Kate. The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore. 282p. Holiday House. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2737-6. LC 2012019564.

MAYO, Simon. Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter. 426p. Sterling/Splinter. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-4549-0509-7.

NESBET, Anne. A Box of Gargoyles. 368p. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-210425-0.

PERL, Erica S. Aces Wild. 224p. glossary. Knopf. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-307-93172-6; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97104-4; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97547-8. LC 2012023335.

PHILLIPS, Gin. The Hidden Summer. 208p. Dial. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3836-2.

PRYCE, Trevor with Joel Naftali. An Army of Frogs. Bk. 1. illus. by Sanford Greene. 273p. (Kulipari Series). Abrams/Amulet. 2013. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0172-6. LC 2012027726.

REESE, Jenn. Mirage. Bk. 2. 368p. (Above World Series). Candlewick. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5418-4; ebook $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6364-3. LC 2012943643.

RODKEY, Geoff. New Lands. Bk. 2. 304p. (The Chronicles of Egg Series). Putnam. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25786-5.

SANDERSON, Brandon. The Rithmatist. illus. by Ben McSweeney. 368p. Tor. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2032-2; ebook ISBN 978-1-4299-5316-0.

SCOTT, Jerry. Chillax. illus. by Jim Borgman. 256p. (Zits Series). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-222851-2. LC 2013931374.

SHULMAN, Polly. The Wells Bequest: A Companion to The Grimm Legacy.288p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25646-2. LC 2012036571.

SHUSTERMAN, Neal. Ship Out of Luck. 304p. Dutton. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42226-6.

SMITH, Icy. Three Years and Eight Months. illus. by Jennifer Kindert. 44p. maps. photos. East West. 2013. Tr $20.95. ISBN 978-0-9856237-8-4. LC 2012040668.

VOIGT, Cynthia. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things. Bk. 1. illus. by Iacopo Bruno. 384p. Knopf. Sept. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97681-9; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97123-5; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97683-3. LC 2012033823.

WEISSMAN, Elissa Brent. The Short Seller. 256p. S & S/Atheneum. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5255-8; ebook ISBN 978-1-4424-5293-0. LC 2012018632.

YOLEN, Jane & Adam Stemple. The Hostage Prince. Bk. 1. 240p. (The Seelie Wars Series). Viking. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01434-7.

Day of Dialog | Brooklyn
Coinciding with Brooklyn Book Festival, this special-engagement event on September 15 will feature both Festival and metropolitan-area authors with panels modeled on Library Journal and School Library Journal’s long-running and annually sold-out Day of Dialog events. Get the inside scoop on the hottest new books—plus book giveaways and author signings!