Sunday, July 30, 2017


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday where Middle Grade Mania spotlights new books for your young reader!

Arlene Stewart
Ages 8 - 12
Release Date: July 6, 2017

As a class klutz and all-around misfit, Olivia Jones' life is tough enough. Then her best friend Alex reveals that her family is moving all the way to Paris! How is Olivia supposed to face middle school without her BFF? But when Olivia discovers an old friendship bracelet in her mother's drawer, she realizes that it might just be the key to stay connected to Alex, even when they're an entire ocean apart. And with the creation of a new friendship bracelet club, it might even be the key to making new friends too...

Friday, July 28, 2017

THE GOLDEN COMPASS: Reviewed by The Books Monsters

The Golden Compass was my gateway book into fantasy. I remember stalking bookstores and looking for the sequels to come out (a time before Amazon and Goodreads). Set in an alternate London, Lyra is an orphan and warded with one of Oxford’s colleges. Her uncle is the esteemed and frightening Lord Asriel – who has discovered “Dust” – a particle that he suspects will lead to the discovery of an alternate universe. She ends up in the care of Mrs. Coulter, who seems like a mother but in a cold way. When Lyra finds out that her best friend Roger has disappeared, she runs away to look for him. She finds the alethiometer – which takes her a while to decode, but helps her on her journey. She finds that more kids have disappeared and she knows if she finds the reason, she will find her friend.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND - Cover Reveal on Chapter Book Challenge

by Melissa Stoller
Cover reveal posted on Chapter Book Challenge

I’m so excited to announce the cover reveal for my debut chapter book, THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION – BOOK ONE: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND. The book releases on July 25, 2017!
It’s very appropriate that Becky is hosting this reveal because I wrote the first early draft of the manuscript during the Chapter Book Challenge in 2016! I participated in the challenge as an author new to the process of writing chapter books. I really enjoyed spending the month brainstorming ideas and writing alongside others who were pursuing the same goals and facing the same obstacles. Next, I enrolled in The Chapter Book Alchemist course with Hillary Homzie through Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. Hillary’s online course and critique helped me with character development, pacing a chapter book, and so much more. I subsequently enrolled in the Chapter Book Blueprint course, further refining my work. In Chapter Book Challenge 2017, I made great progress on the manuscript for Book Two: THE LIBERTY BELL TRAIN RIDE!

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grad Monday where Middle Grade Mania spotlights the newest upcoming releases for your young reader!

Diana J. Noble
Pinata Books
Ages 11 - 14
Release Date: May 31, 2017

If they do come here, theyll show us no mercy, thirteen-year-old Evangelina overhears her father say as she gathers eggs in the chicken pen. Back at the house, Mamá brushes away her fears of revolutionaries. There are even more chores than usual to be done at Rancho Encantado because her sisters quinceañera celebration is rapidly approaching!

Its the summer of 1911 in northern Mexico, and soon the de León family learns that the rumors of soldiers in the region are true. Evangelinas father decides they must leave their home to avoid the violence. The trip north to a small town on the U.S. side of the border is filled with fear and anxiety as they worry about loved ones left behind and the uncertain future ahead.

Life in Texas is confusing, though the signs in shop windows that say No Mexicans and some peoples reactions to them are all-too clear. At school, she encounters the same puzzling resentment. The teacher wants to give the Mexican children lessons on basic hygiene! And one girl in particular delights in taunting the foreign-born students. Why cant people understand thateven though shes only starting to learn Englishshes just like them?

With the help and encouragement of the towns doctor and the attentions of a handsome boy, Evangelina begins to imagine a new future for herself. This moving historical novel introduces teens to the tumultuous times of the Mexican Revolution and the experiences of immigrants, especially Mexican Americans, as they adjust to a new way of life.

Friday, July 21, 2017


by D.E. Night
Stories Untold
Ages 8 - 12
Release: July 21st

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret...

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald's mysterious gems. When Ivy s magic and her life is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.


An Interview with
D.E. Night

What inspired you to write The Crowns of Croswald?

I have always found joy in being creative, art projects and things like that. But more than that, I’ve always loved stories, mostly my favorite animated movies. I’m a Disney fanatic. My draw toward fantasy and my creative drive sort of forced me to start writing.

For me, it’s not just about the writing, it’s about creating characters, designing scenes, and imagining everything and anything magical. Croswald is basically me in a book—fairy tale with an edge. I love fashion, fairy tales, anything that sparkles, and I especially love magic.

What was your favorite part about creating the world of Croswald?

I’ m so grateful to be one of those people that really truly loves what they’re doing. My favorite part of this whole experience is seeing pieces of my world come to life, whether in the form of illustrations or being able to hold a physical
book in hand. It’s like a dream. I also love the process of creating characters
and naming them. I have a lot of fun with that.

Tell us more about creating a character. What sort of process do you go through?

Well, I don’t know if it’s a process exactly. It always seems sort of like random
inspiration. For example, eating dinner beside my 11-year-old brother who loves butter and bread. Emphasis on the butter. Readers get to meet Woodley Butterlove and understand how my little brother inspired such a character.

Ivy is a strong, inspirational character. How do you think she grows throughout the book, and what would you like the reader to take away from that?

I think a lot of people’s natural talent is hindered by self-doubt. I think for Ivy Lovely, the first book is all about discovery and uncovering her hidden talents. It’s all about taking that first step and trusting your gut. I like to think that her first stride across the slurry fields may speak to a reader waiting to take the first step in their own adventure. Everyone should get the chance to step into something magical.

As a debut author, what surprised you most about the writing process for

The Crowns of Croswald?

Probably my patience. I think people often get deterred by the time it takes to complete something. It’s taken me three and a half years to get to this point and
I was surprised by how calm I was throughout the whole process. Excited, but calm.

This is the first book in a series. Without giving too much away, what do you have in store for your readers as the series evolves?

Of course, readers will get to join Ivy on her adventures of discovery through Croswald full of weird and whacky character. Also a lot of magic and new inventions. The final show down with the dark Queen is going to be spectacular!

Your love of magic and fantasy is apparent in your writing. How did your love

of magic develop?

I spent every birthday visiting theme parks with my best friends. My mom would pick us up early from school and we’d spend a day in a place of total imagination. That world of fantasy seemed so vibrant and I always dreamed of creating a place one day where people can visit. When I wrote, I always wrote keeping that in mind.
Where can people visit?
What can they see when they go there?
Like I said, I love being creative and writing a book seemed the perfect fit. Besides being a Disney fanatic, I love that, with magic, anything is possible.

The Crowns of Croswald follows the adventures of Ivy Lovely, a strong heroine who is full of spirit and unwavering courage. Can you tell us more about her and how her character came about?

The reader meets Ivy when she’s unsure, held back, and lonely. Through the course of The Crowns of Croswold, we get to see Ivy become who she is meant to be: impulsive but smart, studious but adventurous. She doesnt know it yet, but those are the very traits that will save her kingdom. She trusts her gut and that gets her pretty far in life, but she learns to ask for help along the way. Most importantly, shes compassionate and funny: two must-haves in any friend, in my opinion.

If you could give readers one message to inspire them from your book, what wouldit be?

Believe in the magic of your dreams.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE BOY AND THE SPY reviewed by Children's Books Daily

by Felice Arena
Review by Children's Books Daily

Set in Sicily at the time of the second world war, we first meet young Antonio, an orphan boy with a talent for drawing, after he’s just been caught placing an unflattering picture of a German soldier on the windscreen of an officer’s jeep. Antonio is pursued through the village and out of town, completely underestimating the soldier’s resolve to deal with him.

Unwilling to apologise and eager to avoid capture, Antonio takes his chances, jumping off a high cliff into the jewelled Mediterranean Sea. The boy blacks out and is saved by an American spy. Their chance meeting sets Antonio on a thrilling journey.


Monday, July 17, 2017


I'm so excited to share the good news! Author Ruta Sepetys won the CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL for Best Children's writing for her historical novel SALT TO THE SEA.

Read the announcement here:

I absolutely love Sepetys's books, and SALT TO THE SEA is honestly one of the best YA books all around. It is a fictionalized account of the tragic sinking of the German ocean liner Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945 where thousands of men, women, and children lost their lives. Sepetys's research for this and her other books is astounding, and the stories stick with you long after you've read the last pages.

Congratulations to Ruta!

Read my review of SALT TO THE SEA here:

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grad Monday where Middle Grade Mania spotlights the newest upcoming releases for your young reader!


Jennifer Bradbury
Simon & Schuster
Ages 8 - 12
Release Date: June 6, 2017

A twelve-year-old boy living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, stumbles across a secret garden full of sculptures and sees the possibility of another way of life as he bonds with the man who created them in this searingly beautiful novel based on a true story.

Twelve-year-old Ram is a street boy living behind a sign on a building’s rooftop, barely scraping by, winning games of gilli for money, occasionally given morsels of food through the kindness of Mr. Singh, a professor and father of his friend Daya.

But his prowess at gilli is what gets him into big trouble. One day, when he wins against some schoolboys fair and square, the boys are infuriated. As they chase Ram across town, he flings his small sack of money over a factory gate where no one can get it, and disappears into the alleyways. But someone does get the money, Ram discovers when he sneaks back later on to rescue what is his—a strange-ish man on a bike who also seems to be collecting…rocks? Ram follows the man into the jungle, where he finds something unlike anything he’s seen—statues, hundreds of statues…no, thousands of them! Gods and goddesses and buildings, all at half scale. What is this place? And the rock collecting man, Nek, has built them all! When Nek discovers that Ram has followed him, he has no choice but to let the boy stay and earn back the money Nek has spent. How else can he keep him quiet? For his creations lie on land that isn’t technically his to build on.

As Ram and Nek hesitantly become friends, Ram learns the true nature of this hidden village in the jungle, as well as the stories of Shiva and Lord Rama, stories of gods and goddesses that in strange ways seem to parallel Ram’s…and Nek’s.

Based on the true story of one of India’s most beloved artists and modern day folk heroes, Nek Chand was a real man—a man displaced from his home in the midst of war and conflict; a man who missed his home so terribly he illegally reconstructed his entire village in miniature out of found objects and rock, recreating mosaic statues and sculptures spanning acres of jungle. Though Ram is a fictionalized character, Nek’s artwork is real. Intertwined with mythology and the sociopolitics of India, this is an exquisitely wrought, unexpected, and singular tale about the connection of community and how art can help make us human.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

THE SPECTACULAR SPENCER GRAY - Reviewed on Kids' Book Review

By Deb Fitzpatrick

Spencer Gray suspects something sinister is happening in the bushland around his local town. He searches for the truth but quickly becomes entangled in a dangerous situation.

Afraid that telling someone will get him in serious trouble, Spencer confides only to his two best mates, and together they try to fix things alone.
The Spectacular Spencer Gray is a fast paced, addictive read. It’s fresh, relatable and full of intrigue and adventure. With devious crooks, daring escapes and midnight missions, kids won’t be able to put it down.

Monday, July 10, 2017


About a year and a half ago, I had to stop posting regularly on this blog due to a lot of other demands on my time. I've missed Middle Grade Mania, and I've missed all of you. It's time to come back! Look for regular posts spotlighting book reviews, new blogs, and new middle grade book releases.

In addition, I have updated the directory of blogs, removing some outdated ones and adding some new ones.

If you know of any blogs that should be added to this directory, please contact me at laurisawhitereyes at yahoo com.

Check out these new additions to Middle Grade Mania!


Kids reviewing books for kids. While the reviews are primarily of picture books, many kids enjoy reading other kids' opinions on their favorite books.


Reviews for kids from pre-school through high school. Posts written by a retired children's librarian.


Primarily picture books with occasional middle grade reviews and guest posts/interviews.


Reviews, gift book suggestions, reading activities, and more. A great resource for parents helping kids learn how to read.

Reviews posted by school librarian, educator, and Kirkus reviewer.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

New Kids Fantasy Book -- SEER OF THE GUILDE

The Celestine Chronicles, Book 3
Skyrocket Press
Ages 10 & up

IN THE THIRD installment of The Celestine Chronicles, novice enchanter Marcus Frye sets out to rescue his mother, Ivanore, from the clutches of her arch enemy, Chancellor Prost, now the self-proclaimed leader of the Vatéz. With the help of new allies and old friends, Marcus embarks on his most dangerous quest yet. The fate of his family and the future of his entire kingdom depend on his victory.

I'm so excited to finally share this book with you! The Celestine Chronicles began as bedtime stories for my son, and eventually the first book in the series, The Rock of Ivanore, was published in 2012, followed by the sequel, The Last Enchanter, in 2013.

It's taken four years to get book 3 into your hands, but we are finally here! Thank you to all my young fans (and their parents) for your emails and notes of encouragement. This is for all of you.

Available for kindle and in paperback (other digital editions soon to follow), I hope you enjoy reading about Marcus's daring attempt to rescue his mother, the Lady Ivanore. Once you've read it, please post a review on Aamzon and Goodreads. I'd really appreciate it.

In the meantime, if you've been enjoying The Celestine Chronicles, you might want to check out the prequel series, The Crystal Keeper, as well.


* Grab the first two books in The Celestine Chronicles series for as low as .99 cents each!