Joey Pigza’s Last Hurrah, the Latest from Cynthia Kadohata, and More | Fiction Grades 5-8

This month, authors sensitively and perceptively portray both the bright and dark sides of family life, including award-winning author Cynthia Kadohata’s Half a World Away, a poignant look at adoption, the last installment in the “Joey Pigza” series, and Neil Gaiman’s innovative retelling of the “Hansel and Gretel” tale.


See our complete list of September 2014 SLJ Stars.

redstarGantos, Jack. The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza. 160p. (Joey Pigza: Bk. 5). Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374300838.

Gr 5-7 –The final “Joey Pigza” novel begins as Joey narrates his present situation back in his “roachy row house on Plum St.” He is without a medical patch to treat his ADHD because his mom can’t remember where she hid them. Joey’s father has gotten a botched face-lift and runs away again. When Joey receives a call at school from his frantic mother pleading for him to come home because she’s afraid she will hurt Carter Junior, Joey rushes home, afraid of what he might find. Things go from bad to worse as Joey tries to comfort his mom. She winds up checking herself into a hospital for depression, leaving middle-schooler Joey to care for his baby brother. Woeful metaphors describe Joey’s dysfunctional predicament and ensuing altercations with his dad, who is stalking the family in order to kidnap the baby. Joey takes responsibility for his condition, as well as challenges his father to do the same. This may be the darkest volume yet in Gantos’s series. Readers who have read the previous books and come to know and love Joey will appreciate the irony and emotional punch of his final triumph. Give this groundbreaking, heartbreaking title to readers mature and sensitive enough to understand the author’s black humor and seriousness.–D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

redstarHagen, George. Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle. 384p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. 2014. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385371049; Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385371032; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385371056. LC 2013032533.

Gr 5-8 –Gabriel Finley loves riddles. His father taught him one every day; every day, that is, until he disappeared. For three years Gabriel’s father has been missing and his father’s somewhat dotty but loving sister is taking care of Gabriel. Ravens also love riddles. They use riddles to distinguish themselves from valravens—evil birds who never laugh, who eat human flesh, and who turned humankind away from friendship with ravens. On Gabriel’s 12th birthday, his aunt gives him his father’s diary and he discovers that his father was an amicus, someone who could merge with a raven and fly through the sky. He also discovers that his father’s older brother, Corax, was also an amicus who turned evil and disappeared. Soon after, Gabriel rescues a baby raven and discovers that he, too, is an amicus. The raven, Paladin, tells Gabriel that they must find an object called a torc, which can grant any wish, before Gabriel’s Uncle Corax does. The titular character, along with Paladin; Septimus, a former inmate who knows his father; and three school friends, sets out to rescue of his father and, in essence, save the world. Hagen has crafted a tale that contains riddles, magic, courage, loyalty, and compassion in a way that is sure to engage readers. Gabriel inhabits a dark world where friendship is the guiding light and differences are respected and valued. This is a great read for fantasy lovers who have worn out their copies of “Harry Potter.” The ending suggests that more is to come, and more will be welcome.–Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC

redstarRex, Adam. Smek for President! illus. by Adam Rex. 272p. Disney-Hyperion. Feb. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484709511.

Gr 4-8 –After successfully banishing the Gorg and ruining the Boovs’s plans to colonize planet Earth, J.Lo and Gratuity (Tip to her friends) are back in this sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday (Hyperion, 2007). The Boov, dumpy little aliens who find English grammar amusingly challenging, have now settled, somewhat peevishly, on one of Saturn’s moons. J.Lo, and Tip board J.Lo’s converted Chevy spacecraft, Slushious, and blast off to New Boovworld, only to find themselves on the run from the police and Captain Smek, who is now campaigning to become New Boovworld’s first president. Rex is a comic genius who has created a laugh- and groan-out-loud novel filled with spaceship chases, bubbling billboards, villainous villains, and reluctant heroes to say nothing of rousing games of Stickyfish and the obligatory garbage pit. Hilarious cartoons will please graphic novel aficionados. Don’t skip Appendix A: Rules for Stickyfish.–Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

redstarRyan, Carrie & John Parke Davis. The Map to Everywhere. 448p. Little, Brown. Nov. 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316240772; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316240765.

Gr 4-6 –Fin is so forgettable, no one can remember him for more than a few minutes. Left by his mother at an orphanage in the pirate city of Khaznot Quay at the age of four, he’s been on his own ever since. Fin uses his curse to his benefit by becoming a master thief. When he receives a letter directing him to steal a key in exchange for treasures and a promise to show him the way home, he accidentally releases the Oracle, an insane wizard who had been carefully guarded for centuries. Meanwhile in another world, adventurous Marrill, stuck in suburban Arizona, finds an enormous ship in a parking lot. Soon she’s traveling the pirate stream, a waterway connecting all worlds, joined by a wizard on a quest for the Map to Everywhere, which they will need to get Marrill home. Fin and Marrill’s paths intersect and they set about stealing and reassembling the map—each piece located in a different world. The task becomes further complicated when they realize the Oracle is also after the map. Alternating between Fin and Marilll’s points of view, a slower beginning allows for compelling character development in the first quarter the book. When the plots merge, the pacing picks up, mirroring the urgency of the characters, though readers may wish for more time to digest and appreciate the various worlds before racing on to the next. Husband and wife team Ryan and Davis have created wholly original settings, and the juxtaposition of Fin and Marrill’s backgrounds and personalities is enjoyable and humorous. This is an ambitious undertaking, and strong readers who enjoy adventure fiction and fantasy will inhale the first book in what has the potential to be an extraordinary series.–Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR

redstarTripp, Ben. The Accidental Highwayman. illus. by Ben Tripp. 304p. Tor Teen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765335494; ebk. ISBN 9781466822634.

Gr 6 Up –Tripp explains that this story of Kit Bristol, accidental highwayman from the mid-18th century, turned up in his ancestor’s sea chest. Orphan and trick rider, Kit works for James Rattle, whose mysterious nocturnal activities lead to a bloody death. Kit obeys his master’s last instructions, pulling back the curtain on a magical world that lives alongside his own. Kit must help fairy princess Morgana defy her father and escape marriage to King George III of England. As they journey to Ireland’s free Faerie state, they pick up a circus performer, a baboon, and a mildly delusional elderly gentleman to round out their motley crew. Fairy attacks from Morgana’s enemies impede their progress until they decide to form a carnival show to hide in plain sight. Humorous mayhem ensues. It is difficult not to be entertained by Kit’s first person narration that blends historical detail with the antics of the fairy kingdom. Tripp ably conveys the protagonist’s subtle sense of the ridiculous through his many mishaps, and conversations between magical creatures and uninformed mortals add to the book’s humor. Readers will root for star-crossed lovers, Kit and Morgana, and delight in their “opposites attract” romance, drawn onward by a rollicking plot. Informative footnotes occasionally pull readers out of the story, though they dwindle as the story progresses. Tripp’s detailed black-and-white illustrations are worth a second look. Fantasy readers, especially fans of Cathrynne Valente’s work, will enjoy the author’s elegant turns of phrase. A first purchase for all fantasy collections.–Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT


Arbuthnott, Gill. Beneath. 288p. ebook available. Floris/KelpiesTeen. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781782500520.

Bass, Patrick Henry. The Zero Degree Zombie Zone. illus. by Jerry Craft. 144p. ebook available. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545132107; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545675499; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780545132114.

Beha, Eileen. The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea. 288p. S. & S./Beach Lane. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442498402. LC 2013044880.

Bergin, Virginia. H2O. 336p. Sourcebooks Fire. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492606543.

Black, Holly & Cassandra Clare. The Iron Trial. 304p. (Magisterium: Bk. 1). ebook available. Scholastic. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545522250; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545522274.

Blair, Kelsey. Pick and Roll. ISBN 9781459406025; ISBN 9781459406018; ISBN 9781459406032.

Boateng, Johnny. Hustle. ISBN 9781459406056; ISBN 9781459406049; ISBN 9781459406063.

Forsyth, Christine A. Power Hitter. ISBN 9781459405905; ISBN 9781459405929.

ea vol: 136p. (Lorimer Sports Stories). Lorimer. Sept. 2014. $16.95. pap. $9.95. ebk.

Booth, Coe. Kinda Like Brothers. 256p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545224963.

Brahmachari, Sita. Jasmine Skies. 336p. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807537824.

Cerra, Kerry O’Malley. Just a Drop of Water. 320p. Sky Pony. Sept. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781629146133.

Dallas, Sandra. Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky. 248p. Sleeping Bear. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781585369065.

Demas, Corinne. Returning to Shore. 208p. Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467713283; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467724036. LC 2013018618.

Dowding, Philippa. Jake and the Giant Hand. illus. by Shauna Daigle. 80p. (Weird Stories Gone Wrong: Bk. 1). Dundurn. Oct. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781459724211; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781459724235.

Ellis, Deborah. The Cat at the Wall. 144p. House of Anansi/Groundwood. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554984916.

Erskine, Kathryn. The Badger Knight. 352p. ebook available. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545662932.

Farrey, Brian. The Grimjinx Rebellion. illus. by Brett Helquist. 432p. (The Vengekeep Prophecies: Bk. 3). HarperCollins/Harper. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062049346; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9780062049360.

Flake, Sharon. Unstoppable Octobia May. 288p. bibliog. Scholastic. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545609609. LC 2014003496.

Fontánez, Edwin. The Illuminated Forest. illus. by Edwin Fontánez. 336p. Exit Studio. 2014. pap. $18. ISBN 9780983189169.

Frederick, Heather Vogel. Absolutely Truly. 368p. (Pumpkin Falls Mystery: Bk. 1). S. & S. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442429727; ebk. ISBN 9781442429741. LC 2013046926.

Freeman, Martha. The Orphan and the Mouse. illus. by David McPhail. 224p. Holiday House. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823431670; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823432592.

Grey, C. R. Legacy of the Claw. illus. by Jim Madsen. 304p. (Animas: Bk. 1). Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423180388. LC 2013046218.

Harlow, Joan Hiatt. The Watcher. 304p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442429116.

Harris, Teresa E. The Perfect Place. 272p. Clarion. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547255194; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780544374270.

Holt, K. A. Rhyme Schemer. 176p. Chronicle. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781452127002. LC 9781452120772.

Hoover, P. J. Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life. 311p. ebook available. Tor/Forge/Starscape. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780765334688.

Jacobson, Darlene Beck. Wheels of Change. 180p. bibliog. photos. websites. Creston. Oct. 2014. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781939547132.

Jeter, Derek & Paul Mantell. The Contract. 160p. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481423120.

Kadohata, Cynthia. Half a World Away. 240p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481418065. LC 2013031627.

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. Secret of the Mountain Dog. 208p. Scholastic. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545603690; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545605199.

Kunce, Jeanna. Darien and the Lost Paints of Telinoria. illus. by Craig Kunce. 192p. Windhill Bks. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.00. ISBN 9780984482863. LC 2014938874.

Lipsyte, Robert. The Twin Powers. 256p. Clarion. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547973357; ebk. ISBN 9780547974521. LC 2013043951.

Losure, Mary. Backwards Moon. 144p. Holiday House. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823431601; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823432530. LC 2013045643.

Lubar, David. The Bully Bug. 144p. (Monsterrific Tales). Tor/Forge/Starscape. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780765330826.

McCallum, Mary. Dappled Annie and the Tigrish. illus. by Annie Hayward. 145p. Gecko Pr. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781877579950.

MacColl, Michaela & Rosemary Nichols. Rory’s Promise. 288p. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781620916230.

McCowan, Patricia. Honeycomb. ISBN 9781459805798. LC 2014935397.

Thomas, Erin. Forcing the Ace. ISBN 9781459806450. LC 2014935378.

ea vol: 144p. (Orca Limelights). ebook available. Orca Book. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.95.

McNicoll, Sylvia. Revenge on the Fly. 216p. Pajama Pr. Sept. 2014. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781927485569. LC 20139084142.

Morgan, G. A. The Fog of Forgetting. 303p. (The Five Stones Trilogy: Bk. 1). Islandport Pr. 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781939017239. LC 2013901201.

Nicholson, Simon. The Magician’s Fire. 272p. (Young Houdini: Bk. 1). Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781492603320.

O’Donnell, Tom. For the Love of Gelo! 368p. (Space Rocks!: Bk. 2). Penguin/Razorbill. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781595147141.

Pastis, Stephan. Timmy Failure: We Meet Again. illus. by Stephan Pastis. 272p. (Timmy Failure: Bk. 3). ebook available. Candlewick. Oct. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763673758; ebk. $14.99. ISBN 9780763675851.

Pflugfelder, “Science Bob” & Steve Hockensmith. Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove. 272p. (Nick and Tesla: Bk. 4). Quirk. Oct. 2014. Tr ISBN 9781594747298. LC 2013956139.

Polonsky, Ami. Gracefully Grayson. 256p. Disney-Hyperion. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423185277; ebk. ISBN 9781423187929.

Pyros, Andrea. My Year of Epic Rock. 224p. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Sept. 2014. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781402293009.

Salisbury, Graham. Hunt for the Bamboo Rat. 336p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780375842665; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375940705; ebk. ISBN 9780307979704.

SAUERWEIN, Leigh. River Music. 132p. ebook available. Namelos. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781608981861; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781608981878. LC 2014941719.

Segel, Jason Kirsten Miller. Nightmares! illus. by Karl Kwasny. 385p. Delacorte. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385744256.

Taylor, S. S. The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton’s Lair. illus. by Katherine Roy. 400p. maps. (The Expeditioners: Bk. 2). McSweeney’s. Sept. 2014. Tr $22.00. ISBN 9781940450209.

Torres, Jennifer. The Disappearing. 96p. (The Briny Deep Mysteries: Bk. 1). ebook available. Speeding Star. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781622851720.

Turner, Tom. Sign of the Sandman. 320p. MagicFactory. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781938155109; ebk. $7.99. ISBN 9781938155116; Audio $17.99. ISBN 9781938155130. LC 2013939278.

Vail, Rachel. Unfriended. 288p. Viking. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670013074; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698144804. LC 2014006247.

Voigt, Cynthia. The Book of Secrets. illus. by Iacopo Bruno. 356p. (Mister Max: Bk. 2). ebook available. Knopf. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780307976840; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375971242.

Whitaker, Nathan. Snap Decision. 272p. (Game Face: Bk. 1). ebook available. Zonderkidz. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780310737001.

Wilson, John. Wings of War. 192p. Doubleday Canada. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780385678308; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780385678315.

Wingest, Dianna Dorisi. A Million Ways Home. 256p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545667067; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545667074.

Zehr, E. Paul. Project Superhero. illus. by Kris Pearn. 224p. ECW. Sept. 2014. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9781770411807.

Graphic Novels

Fred. Cast Away on the Letter A: A Philemon Adventure. tr. from French by Richard Kutner. illus. by Frederic Othon Aristides. 48p. Candlewick/TOON Graphic. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781935179634. LC 2013047986.

Gaiman, Neil. Hansel & Gretel. illus. by Lorenzo Mattotti. 56p. bibliog. Candlewick/TOON Graphic. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781935179627; RTE $29.95. ISBN 9781935179658. LC 2014000694.

Kirkbride, D. J. & Adam P. Knave. Amelia Cole and the Unknown World. Vol. 1. 152p. 2013. ISBN 9781613777008.

––––. Amelia Cole and the Hidden War. Vol. 2 120p. 2014. ISBN 9781613779538.

ea vol: illus. by Nick Brokenshire. IDW. pap. $19.99.

Moylan, Max. Bravoman. illus. by Dax Gordine & Josh Perez. 152p. (Bravoman: Bk. Vol. 1). Udon. Oct. 2014. RTE $19.99. ISBN 9781926778938.

Pope, Paul & J. T. Petty. The Rise of Aurora West. illus. by David Rubin. 160p. First Second. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781626720091; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722682.

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Oh no, it can't be! No more Joey Pigza ... well, he should be left to go on and move into the next part of the journey, I suppose. Jack, I am having a crazy good time handselling the Norvelt books; Dead End has been on two seasons of my public library's Battle of the Books! Okay, turn that Joey energy toward something else to make us laugh, okay?

Posted : Sep 04, 2014 10:07




Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

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