New Release Spotlight: March 3, 2020 (Middle Grades)

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This week’s middle grade list is the shortest of the three, but there are a couple of major titles you’ll want to be aware of. First and foremost, Linda Sue Park’s Prairie Lotus is receiving massive early praise from professional reviewers. There’s also a fun new mystery from Ally Carter that looks like it would be great for fans of Ellen Oh’s popular Spirit Hunters series.

As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. This week’s YA and picture book Spotlights are linked at the bottom of this post. And don’t forget The Ginormous book list, which is now up to nearly 500 titles!

*Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Prairie Lotus is about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers.

So, it’s Linda Sue Park. Do you need any other reason to get this one? How about those FIVE STARRED REVIEWS? Yep!

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: Asian-Americans, Dakota Territory, pioneers, dressmaking, racism, US history, female education

Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden

Award-winning author Tonya Bolden explores the black women who have changed the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in America. Including groundbreaking computer scientists, doctors, inventors, physicists, pharmacists, mathematicians, aviators, and many more, this book celebrates more than 50 women who have shattered the glass ceiling, defied racial discrimination, and pioneered in their fields. In these profiles, young readers will find role models, inspirations, and maybe even reasons to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow. These stories help young readers to dream big and stay curious. The book includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction, collected biography
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: STEAM, Afican-Americans, Women’s History Month, strong women, US history

Fly Back, Agnes by Elizabeth Atkinson

Twelve-year-old Agnes hates everything about her life: her name, her parents’ divorce, her best friend’s abandonment, her changing body…So while staying with her dad over the summer, she decides to become someone else. She tells people she meets that her name is Chloe, she’s fourteen, her parents are married, and she’s a dancer and actor–just the life she wants.

But Agnes’s fibs quickly stack up and start to complicate her new friendships, especially with Fin, whose mysterious relative runs a local raptor rehab center that fascinates Agnes. The birds, given time and care, heal and fly back home. Agnes, too, wants to get back to wherever she truly belongs. But first she must come to see the good in her real life, however flawed and messy it is, and be honest with her friends, her family, and herself.

I think so many middle schoolers will identify with Agnes. Who among us didn’t want to change our name and pretend to be older and cooler when we were 12? This will be an easy-sell, especially with girls.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: divorce, identity, self-acceptance, lies, secrets, birds of prey, animal welfare, musicians, cello

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters by Suzanne Kamata (Author) and Tracy Nishimura Bishop (Illustrator)

Thirteen-year-old Satoshi Matsumoto spent the last three years living in Atlanta where he was the star of his middle-school baseball team–a slugger with pro potential, according to his coach. Now that his father’s work in the US has come to an end, he’s moved back to his hometown in rural Japan.

Living abroad has changed him, and now his old friends in Japan are suspicious of his new foreign ways. Even worse, his childhood foe Shintaro, whose dad has ties to gangsters, is in his homeroom. After he joins his new school’s baseball team, Satoshi has a chance to be a hero until he makes a major-league error.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: Japan, Japanese-Americans, baseball, grandparents, bullying, dementia, brothers and sisters, siblings, deaf sibling, wheelchair-bound sibling, sports, isolation, peer exclusion

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter

April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t the one who broke the vase. April didn’t ask to go live in a big, creepy mansion with a bunch of orphans who just don’t understand that April isn’t like them. After all, April’s mother is coming back for her someday very soon.

All April has to do is find the clues her mother left inside the massive mansion. But Winterborne House is hiding more than one secret, so April and her friends are going to have to work together to unravel the riddle of a missing heir, a creepy legend, and a mysterious key before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): mystery, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: absent parents, secrets, old mansions, foster children, keys

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (MIDDLE GRADES):

MORE NEW RELEASES THIS WEEK:

   

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