Children’s and Young Adult Newsletter 14: May 2016


At the Medio School for Girls, young women are trained to become one of two wives assigned to high society men. If they succeed, they will become Primeras, wives who run the family’s business affairs and manage reputations, or Segundas, whose positions require them to be nurturers, emotionally and physically. As rigorous as their training can be, the prospect of failure is more daunting still. Girls who are not selected by a family return home a burden to their families, a subject of gossip and ridicule. As the top Primera student, seventeen-year-old Daniela Vargas knows she will land a place with one of the most influential families in the country, with whom she must resist the temptation to become romantically involved. Emotions (and all the messy entanglements that come with them) are the territory of Segundas, after all. But as graduation and marriage approach, Dani finds herself tempted (and tested) in ways she never knew possible – and by someone she would never expect to like…let alone love. With the country on the brink of a civil war, and a revolutionary group straining at the boundaries of society, Dani will be faced with an impossible choice: Follow her head, using her status and the power it brings to become—and remain—the most powerful Primera of her generation? Or follow her newly awakened heart, and the girl who brought it to life? Based in part on author Tehlor Kinney’s experiences growing up biracial and struggling to fit into two communities, BETWEEN THE SHADOW AND THE SOUL follows a vividly drawn character who knows that even in the most threatening of times, the greatest dangers can be brought about by one’s own heart. It is an extraordinary debut that will appeal to fans of Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn and Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse. Please note, Jim McCarthy is the agent on this project.

During World War II in Cologne and the surrounding Rhine Valley of Germany, a group of working-class kids got together to fight the Nazis during the Third Reich. They called themselves the Edelweiss Pirates and started out with small stuff — staying out after curfew, going hiking on their own, and singing songs with lyrics like “We want to be free from Hitler.” However, as Germany turned to war, so too did the Pirates turn to active resistance by distributing anti-Nazi fliers, beating up Hitler Youth painting graffiti on Nazi buildings, and even plotting to blow up the Gestapo headquarters in Cologne. Yet their status as a resistance group was not recognized until 2005, mostly because they were seen as anti-authoritarian, wild kids, and hence their story has never been properly told in English. With FLOWERS IN THE GUTTER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EDELWEISS PIRATES, THE TEENAGE REBELS WHO FOUGHT THE NAZIS, author K.R. Gaddy gives the first full nonfiction account of these brave resisters for young readers. Drawing on memoirs and other primary source material, Gaddy vividly shows how the Pirates aided the downfall of the Reich, even at the cost of their own lives. Rich in curriculum tie-ins, FLOWERS IN THE GUTTER is sure to inspire readers of all ages. Please note, John Rudolph is the agent on this project.

When talented short stop Mattie Flowers—MJ on the diamond—tries out for her high school’s baseball team, she doesn’t expect to start a war. But as the school board takes its time in deciding whether a girl should be allowed to play a “boy’s sport,” the sides are clearly drawn. Her best friend Max grows distant while team captain Bodhi Hill grows closer, and Mattie learns that shaking up the status quo isn’t as glorious as it’s made out to be. The stress of losing her best friend right when she’s gained so many enemies aggravates her Tourette’s Syndrome, which makes it difficult to play well and prove the team needs her. But with Bodhi on her side, she finds the strength to survive cranky classmates, angry friends, and embarrassing tics until the school’s rival cancels the most important event of the school year—the Spring Fling game—on the grounds that they won’t play a girl. As the Battle of No Bulge heats up and opposition to Mattie grows, she will learn just who she can trust to stand up for her. And just maybe she’ll learn to stand up for herself. Writer and freelance copyeditor Annie Cosby’s DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND is a contemporary YA novel about baseball, battles, and being the person you know you’re meant to be. (Please note, Lauren Abramo is the agent on this project.)

It’s the first summer since Maddie’s parents’ divorce, and her dad’s run off to Italy with his girlfriend, while her Mom’s just announced a surprise pregnancy. Even worse, her new stepdad is remodeling to make room for the baby, and Maddie’s been relocated….to the laundry room. Nobody wants Maddie around, except her eccentric uncle Percy, who’s invited her to spend the summer working on his remote Eastern Oregon ranch. One long, bumpy bus ride later, and Maddie’s trading in her spotless Frye boots for cow-pie-covered wellies, settling into her bunk in the barn, and getting a crash course in country cooking, from canning strawberry jam to baking biscuits that’ll hopefully have the boys falling at her feet. Make that one boy in particular, surly camp cook Zach, who clearly hates city girls, especially Maddie. Maddie struggles to adapt to country life, and convinced that she’s a total farm failure, she’s ready to turn in her rolling pin and muck bucket and slink back to Portland. But when the ranch comes under attack from a ruthless developer, the summer staff bands together to save it, and Maddie realizes that for the first time in a long while—and in the unlikeliest of places—she finally feels like she belongs. And there’s no way she’s going to let anyone take that away; even if she has to bludgeon them with one of her infamous buttermilk biscuits. BUTTERFINGERS by Jen Stevenson is a misfit teen girl’s crumb-strewn struggle to figure out exactly how she fits into her family…and life in general. (Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.)

When 13-year-old Jess dies her hair (and the bathroom) (and the cat) purple, her parents send her off to a summer boarding school. But Fiendish Academy is no ordinary school—it’s a Victorian mansion stuffed full of bookcases where shadowboxes displaying poison bottles line walls covered in bat-themed wallpaper. Jess discovers that she’ll be spending her summer with other kids of a gothy persuasion, learning things like costuming, literature, and cooking skills from Professors Vianne, Maximilian, and Katarina. But Jess soon realizes that there’s so much more to the house than it seems, including a magical dollhouse that’s a perfect and ever-changing replica of the Academy and doors that appear out of nowhere in the parlor leading to impossible hallways. When it turns out that Jess isn’t the only student unlocking Fiendish Academy’s secrets, darkness threatens to spill over into the normal world, and the professors will need Jess’s help to stop it. Can she find the courage amidst chaos to be as strong as they need her to be? The middle grade debut of Jillian Venters, also known as “the Lady of the Manners” to fans of her book and website Gothic Charm School, FIENDISH ACADEMY captures the perfect balance of spookiness and whimsy with a story about a girl finding her way and kicking some ghoul butt in the process. (Please note, Lauren Abramo is the agent on this project.)

Eleven-year-old Ruby Rafferty and her best friend, Emi Fujiwara, are Seattle girls sure they will someday become entertainers. They have a wonderful teacher who constantly encourages them, and their parents have even arranged an upcoming Christmas trip to Hollywood so the star-struck pair can visit the city of their dreams. But this is December 6, 1941–and the next day, the Japanese Imperial Navy will attack the American base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The United States declares war on Japan, enters World War II, and turns the girls’ lives upside-down.  Ruby watches in horror as Japanese people in her community, including American-born children like Emi, are suddenly suspected of being “the enemy.” Emi’s kind father, who owns an ice cream parlor, is arrested as a possible spy, and Ruby’s dad leaves home to join the army. The girls’ trip to Hollywood is cancelled.  The Japanese are prevented from leaving town, and quite a lot of people are treating them terribly. Ruby never doubts the Fujiwaras for one minute, but it seems like nearly everyone else does. Finally, the government announces that “all persons of Japanese ancestry” must leave the Western Defense Area of the United States, which includes the city of Seattle. Ruby is outraged as Emi and the rest of the Japanese community are forced into primitive internment camps. Everyone seems to believe that nothing can be done for Emi and her family – except for boisterous, irrepressible Ruby. Carolyn Quinn’s TAKE YOUR SONGS IN YOUR POCKET shows how one girl’s unstoppable devotion helps save not only her best friend, but an entire family. Readers of Kirby Larson’s Dash and Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars will be moved and stirred by this tale from a past that, unfortunately, no longer seems so distant. (Please note, Eric Myers is the agent on this project.)

Any day, an adventure can find you. And Louise and Clark are raring to go! Louise is all set with her pre-packed bag and adventure socks, while Clark admires his new compass. Meeting at the playground, they face the uncertain path ahead, shouting, “ONWARD!” Along the way they discover a dinosaur rock, avoid the deadly quicksand, and defend themselves from monsters who look suspiciously like Canadian geese. Fueled by the rush of adventure (as well as some juice boxes and crackers), the two intrepid explorers forge ONWARD! and discover a precious artifact that resembles a popsicle stick. After pressing ONWARD! over hill and dale, Clark thinks he hears the music of their ultimate goal—but there’s one more monster left to overcome. With ONWARD!, author/illustrator Brandon Todd ( creates a wonderfully imaginative take on a playground adventure. Like Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, Louise and Clark are characters whose personalities and imaginations are sure to strike a chord with any young reader. (Please note, John Rudolph is the agent on this project.)

Charlie is having trouble falling asleep. Again. As a last resort, he writes a note to his pillow seeking advice. And his pillow writes back!  Following an unlikely exchange with his beloved pillow, Charlie learns and tries different techniques to get a better night’s rest. DEAR PILLOW by former Jim Henson marketing exec, Susan Lehrer, is a unique and hilarious debut picture book and bedtime tale that marries the quirkiness of The Day The Crayons Quit with practical tactics to help children go to sleep. Empowering, informative and just plain silly, this clever story will put a smile on children’s faces . . . and their relieved parents too! Bedtime books are a staple on all children’s bookshelves, and the recent worldwide craze for The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep confirms continued market appeal. The book targets a slightly older audience (Good Night Moon graduates), and offers opportunities for brand extensions, as well as additional titles that address other parental challenges including picky eaters, messy rooms, and more. (Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.)

East Pages High is all about football. The students and faculty don’t just love it, they live it. When everything revolves around the sport, from classroom conversations to pep rallies to weekend parties, there seems to be no escape from its influence. But for some, the school’s obsession isn’t just about the game. Spencer Collins is not the first to suspect something sinister behind the scenes of the school’s flawless football records. Sitting on the bench most of the season has given him just enough bitterness to see through the veil of school pride covering up some perilous secrets, and he wants nothing more than to expose them. Finn Granger, the new star running back, sees it too. East Pages was his rival school before he transferred, and the rumors he heard seem to be more than gossip. But how could a school ever be involved in the death of a student? His coaches tell him to focus on football, but even if it means ruining his chances at a full-ride scholarship, he can’t ignore the strange things happening to his girlfriend, Megan—cars parked in front of her house, odd conversations with strangers, stuff rearranged in her bedroom. Is it all in their heads? Just how far is the team willing to go to keep their players focused? To help their team win? After all, it’s not just a game for East Pages, it’s life—but could it be death, too? Debut novelist Heather Buchta’s contemporary thriller, DANTEAN POINT, takes the reader on a twisted second-guessing game of suspicion and paranoia, while baring the lengths people will go to protect who, and what, they love. (Please note, Erin Young is the agent on this project.)

Imagine that your reward for helping aliens escape captivity on Earth was a lifetime in an intergalactic zoo, paired with the one high-school classmate you despise. Your captors want you to mate. And why not? All the other animals do. This YA science-fiction novel is set on a planet called Glory that rotates slowly, one side exposed to the sun for several years, the other remaining in eerie shadow, with each side inhabited by creatures in a state of perpetual migration. Enter a group of teenagers who have helped friendly aliens escape captivity on Earth, only to find themselves captive on a planet where they are viewed as inferiors–the brightest of them auctioned as pets; the others relegated to a zoo where their primitive behavior can amuse spectators. Told mostly from the point of view of Kiwi, a half-Hopi teenager who owes her life to the aliens, the heart of the story centers on the fact that the aliens in question had first visited earth centuries before. At that time, they had helped the starving Hopis survive a dreadful drought and famine. Kiwi feels an innate bond with them and is determined to do everything she can to protect them. But first she’s got to find her way out of the zoo where she’s in captivity.

With THE DARK SIDE OF GLORY, debut YA novelist Gary Nei has given us a breathlessly-paced sci-fi thriller that energizes the imagination and exercises the brain. It also has a tough but vulnerable young heroine you can’t help but love. (Please note, Eric Myers is the agent on this project.)

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