February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

New Fast-Paced Middle Grade Series Openers │ JLG’s On the Radar

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Eoin Colfer and Gordon Korman lead the pack this fall with first books in new series. From magic to hypnotism and fantastical creatures to pirates, these novels selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild will have middle grade readers anticipating their next installments.

CARLSON, Caroline. Magic Marks the Spot : The Very Nearly Magic Marks the SpotHonorable League of Pirates. Bk. 1. HarperCollins. 2013. ISBN 9780062194343. JLG Level: ME : Mystery/Adventure Elementary (Grades 2–6).

From the novel’s first pages (in which readers get a peek at application and rejection letters), Hilary Westfield’s admittance to both finishing school and piracy will have kids laughing out loud. Longing to be a swashbuckler, the young girl’s hopes are dashed when the League of Pirates rejects her application because she is a girl. Her father, Admiral of the Royal Navy, agrees with the decision and sends her to Miss Pimm’s Finishing School where she will learn proper skills for girls, such as embroidering and fainting. Taking her magical gargoyle with her, Hilary sets out to answer an ad for an experienced pirate crew member. The newly appointed pirate joins a motley crew where secrets are hoarded and lives are more linked than anyone could know. Magic is stolen, an invaluable treasure is at stake, and hilarious action-packed adventures ensue. Readers will tap their feet while anxiously awaiting Book Two.

Reluctant AssassinCOLFER, Eoin. The Reluctant Assassin, W.A.R.P. Bk. 1. Disney/Hyperion. 2013. ISBN 9781423161622. JLG Level: MM : Mystery/Adventure Middle & HS (Grades 7–11).

No villain has ever been more frightening than Albert Garrick, a magician and murderer for hire. Stumbling upon a wormhole that takes him to the future, Garrick sets his diabolical plans in motion, only to be thwarted by his orphan assistant, Riley. The boy joins forces with teenage FBI agent Chevron Savano. Together they must stop Garrick from traveling back in time, while engaging in a battle to save themselves and the world as they know it. Colfer takes readers to Victorian London in the first book of the “WARP” series, where eyewitnesses are sent to the past while awaiting trial.

KORMAN, Gordon. The Hypnotists. Bk. 1. Scholastic. 2013. ISBN 9780545503228. JLG Level: HIM : High Interest Middle School (Grades 5–8).

Jax has it easier than most kids. He gets what he wants, sometimes by just wishing aloud. Dr. Mako, founder of Sentia, recruits Jax for hypnotic training. Learning his family has a long history of changing events through their hypnotic suggestions, Jax is torn between using his power and finally finding an explanation for the weird events that preceded this discovery. Though he is taught not to use his abilities for personal gain, it quickly becomes obvious that Dr. Mako doesn’t follow his own rules. With his parents and best friend being held hostage through hypnosis, can Jax find a way to defeat the doctor? Can he save America from mind control? Korman’s new tale on the misuse of power is thought-provoking, and will lead readers on a wild adventure.

Hostage PrinceYOLEN, Jane and Adam Stemple. The Hostage Prince: The Seelie Wars. Bk. 1. Viking. 2013. ISBN 9780670014347. JLG Level: FM : Fantasy/Science Fiction Middle (Grades 5–8).

Being killed in a war is hardly the life that Aspen, the Seelie hostage prince, had in mind. To escape his fate, he flees the Unseelie kingdom with the aid of Snail, a midwife apprentice, and the guidance of a drow, the king’s senior counselor. Bravery and brilliance don’t seem to be Aspen’s strongest qualities, adding humor to a dangerous journey through shifting lands, waters filled with attacking merpeople, and pregnant ogres who could eat the runaways for dinner. Snail’s lack of court etiquette, coupled with her strong will, provide the prince with a worthy companion. Yolen and Stemple’s fantasy series is sure to quickly gather fans.

For audio/video versions of these booktalks, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com.



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Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.

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