Children’s and Young Adult Newsletter 11: June 2015

One morning, a restless young orca whale named Hanna hears a funny sound in the water—brrr-umm, brrr-umm. Leaving her pod to investigate, Hanna discovers the sound is coming from a large ferry servicing the San Juan Islands. Hanna forgets all about her relatives in the pod and decides to follow along, delighting the passengers with her playful leaps into the air. But at night, when the ferry comes to dock, Hanna finds herself alone and hungry. Then she hears a noise that sounds like whale song coming from the pier—wheee-oooo-eeepwhich turns out to be a sailor named Seaman Dan playing a pipe. Now Hanna has a friend, but can Seaman Dan help her find the long-lost pod? Inspired by a true story, WHALE FERRY TALE makes for a wonderful new picture book from Janice and Tom Shefelman, whose previous collaborations include A Peddler’s Dream (a Reading Rainbow book) and I, Vivaldi (an IRA/CBC Children’s Choice). Kids and parents will love reading the whale sounds aloud to each other, while Tom’s evocative paintings capture the majesty of the watery landscape and the playful spirit of the orcas. It’s a whale of a tale! Please note, John Rudolph is the agent on this project.

Hunter Donovan doesn’t belong at Better Days Academy, which is really just a well-dressed loony bin. If he’d been better, stronger, less selfish, he would have realized his dad was hurting his little sister. Hunter’s temper never used to be a problem for him. He lived the perfect life before the dark truth came spilling out. Now his dad’s in prison, and after Hunter flips out at school, his mom has him committed. No amount of psycho-analyzing and group therapy is going to change the past. But amongst the bullies, fights, bad cafeteria food, and therapy, Hunter finds himself enmeshed with a group of friends at Better Days—kids with problems just like him. There’s anxiety-ridden Casey, wild and exciting Rosie, recovering bulimic Bethany, and Stray, a self-harmer who doesn’t think he belongs anywhere. Suddenly Hunter doesn’t feel so alone. And yet, even as he’s making friends and slowly falling in love with Stray, the guilt remains, no matter how much he tries to ignore it. They’re all here for a reason. If Hunter can’t let go and find a way to deal with what happened, he might end up another casualty of mental illness, just like one of the new friends he’s grown to love. TURN THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN by Kelley Todd is a heart-wrenching story about loving oneself and finding strength in a bunch of misfits who just might turn out to be the truest friends of all. Please note, Jane Dystel is the agent on this project.

When Chris Schweitzer does a hit of whip-its out behind the dumpster at work, he passes out and falls flat on his face. His mom finds out about what happened, and ships him off to live with his well-known physicist father to work in his lab and be “accountable” for the summer. There, he makes an unexpected friend and discovers that his understanding of his parents and their divorce isn’t quite what he’s always believed. Or: when Chris Schweitzer does a hit of whip-its out behind the dumpster at work, he passes out and falls flat on his face. Chris manages to cover his stupidity with a lie, and he spends his summer as planned, hanging out with his best friends Kohler and Anna. But when they start hooking up, Chris is left feeling like a third wheel, and he’s forced to confront his sexuality in a way he’s never had to before. THE WEAKNESS OF GRAVITY by bestselling author Chris Tebbetts is a realistic coming-of-age novel with a twist, as the story splits into two threads—one where the truth about the accident comes out and one where it remains a secret—following Chris (the character) through both outcomes over the course of his last summer before college. It’s painfully funny, wickedly smart, and will appeal to readers of Rainbow Rowell, Jandy Nelson and David Arnold. Please note, Michael Bourret is the agent on this project.

Jeremy Wallach is coming of age in 1989—against the backdrop of such world events as Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But as a high-school junior in suburban Rochester, New York, he is struggling with his own problems. He’s just learned that he’s a candidate for wearing a back brace for the next few years thanks to a stubborn case of scoliosis; his brash best friend is beginning to cramp his style; and his divorced parents are not making life easy. To complicate matters, he soon finds himself falling head over heels for the attractive, troubled new girl who’s just moved to his school from another district.  Before long, Jeremy must face events that will take him out of himself and force him to focus on the larger issues in the world around him. Moreover, he will finally be confronted with a long-suppressed family secret. Sixteen will never seem the same.  Aaron Rabinowitz’s debut novel JUNIOR SLUMP gives us a protagonist who is wry, self-deprecating, and a surprisingly endearing teenage kvetch. This contemporary realistic YA is already drawing raves from such award-winning writers as Glen Huser (Stitches), who writes, “Rabinowitz’s voice is fresh and funny; tender and literate. As he continues to write Young Adult fiction, don’t be surprised to find Rabinowitz’s novels rubbing jackets with the likes of Stephen Chbosky and John Green.” Please note, Eric Myers is the agent on this project.

When she arrives on Mars, her file contains only a single name: Aurora. She finds herself enrolled at the Academy, an institution intended to train the red planet’s next generation of leaders, and with no memory of her life on Earth, Aurora tries to begin anew. She attends classes, meets new friends, endures rigorous survival training on Mars’ harsh surface, and competes on the gymnastics team where the reduced gravity gives her and her peers abilities unlike anything on Earth. And…there is a boy. Then strange, seemingly unrelated incidents begin to occur. Pressurized explosions, unidentified equipment malfunctions on Mars’ surface, biohacking, muggings—all are labeled “accidents” by the Administration, but Aurora and her friends are convinced that someone is targeting students. To uncover the truth, Aurora must dive deeper into the new society developing on Mars. She finds that the shadows lurking beneath its surface are intertwined with the mysteries of her past, forcing her to choose between seeking the answers she so desperately desires or protecting those she has grown to love. The first book in Philip Ryans YA sci-fi Advent Mars series, THE ACADEMY is an engaging, suspenseful story about one girl’s struggle to figure out who she is and where she belongs in a world that is only just being born. Please note, Mike Hoogland is the agent on this project.

At the age of sixteen, Charlotte Samuels captured the world record for the youngest to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, a trifecta of the most challenging swims in the world: the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim; the Catalina Channel Swim; and the English Channel Swim. Charlotte won the crown over the course of just over ten weeks in the summer of 2014. GUTS is the story of Charlotte’s love of the water, beginning with her days as a toddler, splashing in the surf at the Jersey Shore, and continuing on to her years as a competitive pool swimmer. Her curiosity piqued by Lynne Cox’s Swimming to Antarctica, Charlotte entered her first open water race at 12. In her early teenage years, Charlotte faced what many newly teenaged female athletes face: the concept of not being good enough. As girls seemed to disappear from her team, Charlotte decided that she should try something other than the pool because she had nothing to lose. After her first open water swim in the summer of 2010, Charlotte emerged from the water with a new reason to swim and a passion that had become renewed by the open ocean. In summer 2013, she set the world record for youngest ever to complete the Ederle Swim, a nearly century old 17.5 mile swim from lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook. That summer, Charlotte began to support Learn to Swim programs in her town and others, teaching, swimming, and talking about the freedom and beauty of open water. Charlotte hopes that her story will inspire others to find the passion that speaks to them even if they are not the “best.” Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.

Ann (no e) Shirley isn’t the orphan you think she is. In this modern, fanciful, and grotesque reimagining of the classic children’s story, Ann the orphan—in her pit of despair—has inherited more than a lousy lot. She’s also been chosen as the next soldier in an endless fight against goblins, trolls, and all the monsters that lurk under the bed. With none of her namesake’s optimism or romance, but with every ounce of her pragmatism, bravery, and audacity, Ann enters the odd little city of Walking on Sunshine—a city blind to its own abjection—and begins slicing, dicing, and decapitating every goblin she can find. One beastie, though—in the guise of just another obnoxious teenage boy at school—proves too great a match for her. Soon he threatens to destroy what little happiness Ann has managed to find. KILLING GILBERT BLYTHE by Steve Brezenoff (GUY IN REAL LIFE) is Anne of Green Gables meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a mash-up that on its face seems almost ridiculous, but is heartbreaking and powerful in its telling. Please note, Michael Bourret is the agent on this project.

Books are everything to fourth grader Ruby Starr. She read her first words by age two and completed Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by age four. Ruby’s imagination is so powerful that sometimes in the midst of her everyday life, she can find herself in an imaginary world riding a dragon or transforming into a lion. THE FICTIONAL AND SOMETIMES FABULOUS WORLD OF RUBY STARR by Deborah Lytton is a middle grade chapter book series centering on the everyday problems most 4th graders face—friendship triangles, learning about taking responsibility, finding out that secrets always come to light, discovering who they are and who they truly want to become. The fabulous part of a Ruby Starr book comes in the imagination bubbles, which appear throughout the story and give the reader a glimpse into the wonderful world of Ruby’s imagination. In the bubbles, the readers can step away from the story into Ruby’s mind as she walks a red carpet or enters a cave decorated with jewels. Ruby is a grown up Junie B. who is relatable, smart, funny, and always lost in a good story. She can make readers laugh and cry with her misadventures and root for her as she fixes her mistakes by letting her favorite book characters guide her with honesty and passion. Lytton brings Ruby’s world to life for the reader with a mixture of fiction and reality, to show us that imagination is our greatest gift if we only have enough courage to use it. Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.

Something strange happened to Lucia Frank on the night of her thirteenth birthday. When the eclipsed moon slipped into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slipped out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play. Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isnt the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things Lucia herself has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad. With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be. MOON SHADOW by Erin Downing is the story of a girl who has always happily existed on the outer orbit and the magic of a lunar eclipse that changed all that. Please note, Michael Bourret is the agent on this project.

In the last year, three people have disappeared from Ellery’s hometown of Finchley, Ohio. Sometimes Ellery wishes she were one of them, especially after the “incident” under the bleachers during a pep rally. With her social status destroyed, she joins the Horror Enthusiast Club, a refuge for a motley group of geeks who exist only to put on a haunted house at Halloween, fulfilling the school’s public service requirement. But instead of keeping Ellery hidden and safe, the club becomes the target of bullies. A newcomer to the group, Saith, suggests using the haunted house as a means of getting their revenge, and things quickly escalate from simple pranks to grotesque depictions of real violence. Saith’s obsession with blood and gore has Ellery worried that he has something more sinister planned for their tormentors. And could he somehow be connected to the disappearances? Ellery must figure out how all of this fits together, or she might really wind up one of the disappeared. DISARM by Gillian Blake is a grounded horror novel that brings sophistication—and terror—to the genre. Please note, Michael Bourret is the agent on this project.

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