Children’s and Young Adult Newsletter 16: February 2017


In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, seeing how little black lives mattered to the country at large, the Six made a radical decision: to go underground. They knew that they needed a space to explore being African-American apart from the forces of gentrification, targeted policing, and social norms rooted in inequality. Beneath the streets of South Los Angeles, Malaika was built—and this is where 17-year-old V lives with her family in secrecy and in sanctity. But after years of thriving underground, the forces of the world above threaten to discover Malaika, and if that happens, V’s community could be driven out of their safe haven, back onto streets where they feel unsafe at best, actively threatened by politicians selling out black neighborhoods, public and private police forces that don’t value their lives, and a nation that sees them as second class citizens. Soon V is caught between two factions—the one that wants to preserve and protect Malaika at all costs, and the one that demands a chance at true equality aboveground and is preparing for revolution. THE MOLES OF MALAIKA is award winning poet, performer, speaker, and writer Thea Monyée‘s young adult debut. It is a bold, unapologetic, and thrilling work that launches a series that will explore the true meaning of revolution and the question of what comes after. It is a vital, thought-provoking work that looks at the state of race in America and dares to imagine brighter tomorrows without flinching at the costs to get there. (Please note, Jim McCarthy is the agent on this project.)

Seventeen-year-old lifeguard Calli doesn’t want anything to do with cocky new guy Noah and the reckless stunts that could get him killed. She has enough problems of her own. Like caring for her dying mom while trying to clinch the valedictorian spot and win a swimming championship. New in town, Noah knows he has to do something big to keep from earning a reputation as a loser—or the sick kid. He doesn’t need some lifeguard with a hero complex telling him “no” like she’s his mother. Besides, he’s invincible. Surviving the heart transplant that killed his twin brother proved that. As hard as they try to stay away from each other, Noah and Calli are drawn together by a mutual love of the water, and despite their private tragedies, they start to fall in love. But as their personal lives begin to spiral out of control, they push each other away. Calli turns to Adderall to keep her grades up, while Noah performs ever more daring feats to prove his survival wasn’t some cosmic mistake. With their lives closing in on a devastating end, these two lost souls have to figure out how to take the biggest risk of all—opening up—or face the cost of losing each other and themselves. Told in alternating points of view, Valerie Bodden‘s heart-wrenching debut novel DROWNING IN AIR is an ultimately hopeful story about dealing with pressure, overcoming guilt, and finding the strength to become vulnerable. (Please note, Jane Dystel is the agent on this project.)

Dwayne comes from a wild place. He’s been travelling for a long time, looking for somewhere more peaceful to settle, and this quiet forest looks like it could be the place. He’s a very nice guy who only wants to make friends with everyone he meets—but he also happens to be a big, scary Tyrannosaurus Rex! Whenever he tries to introduce himself to any of the forest animals, they run away in fear for their lives. Dwayne knows that if he’s going to make this forest his new home, he must convince the animals that he wants them for friends, not his food—but how? With a wonderfully contemporary art style, A HOME FOR DWAYNE will tickle readers with its sly sense of humor while sharing a subtle message of the power of doing instead of telling. In Dwayne the Dinosaur, bestselling illustrator of The Beginner’s Bible Kelly Pulley ( has created a character whose loneliness is sure to resonate with any reader trying to fit into a new situation. (Please note, John Rudolph is the agent on this project.)

Robin Love’s father has been missing in action for over a year and she’ll do anything to protect her little brother, Sage, from going into foster care once she heads to college. Even if it means deferring her full ride for art to Ridley Art Academy in New York City. Even if it means running away from their guardian, stealing food from hotels, and lying about, well, everything. In order to protect her brother, Robin must expect the unexpected. What she doesn’t expect is for a series of accidental encounters to land her a job as the nanny for a secret baby, whose young father is a rude, gorgeous rockstar…or to be taken in by the family of a kind security guard. Perhaps what she least expected, however, was to fall for the dirt bag daddy (as she calls him). Despite the good fortune she and Sage seem to have stumbled upon, a pile-up of secrets and intricate layers of lies threaten to topple their new life. And when an accidental kiss threatens to jeopardize not only Sage’s safety, but also the band she’s grown to care for, Robin will do whatever it takes to fix the bad choices she’s made. But running away is out of the question now and the costs might be too high. This time, the solution requires not only her courage, but her freedom—and her heart. RUNAWAY GIRL by bestselling author Anne Eliot is breathtaking and heartfelt, with strong romantic elements. Eliot spins a sweet, first-love story that emphasizes the importance of family, coming home, and the inherent good inside us all. (Please note, Amy Elizabeth Bishop is the agent on this project.)

When twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother move to their most recent “forever home,” Ruby’s goal is to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen Vermont sky. She doesn’t want kids at her new school to ask about her past or discover that her outspoken mother has been arrested. But disappearing isn’t easy when her new teacher won’t excuse her from playing the role of Michael Collins at the Wax Museum pageant and Ahmed Abadi, an enthusiastic Syrian refugee, decides he’s her new best friend. Ruby tolerates this latest move by playing the “moon game” with her absent father and plotting to get back to their real home, where they were a family before everything fell apart. Then, Ruby and her dog, Bob Van Doodle, meet the Bird Lady, an elderly recluse who lives in a ramshackle shed outside the mysterious home she’s sealed from the world. There is more to the Bird Lady’s story than people know—as there is to Mom’s and Ruby’s. As Mom’s trial draws near, and prison becomes a reality, Ruby must ultimately make a choice: break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves. Ruby’s story is about the walls we hide behind and the magic that can happen when we’re brave enough to break free. With STEM applications, Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo‘s compelling MG debut, RUBY IN THE SKY is a modern day Because of Winn-Dixie meets Walk Two Moons. It will have readers cheering for Ruby. Ruby in the Sky has won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award (2016), the PEN-New England Susan Bloom Discovery Award (2016), the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship at the New England-SCBWI Conference (2016), and the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature Award (2015). (Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.)

Brothers Jules and Luc Dubois are polar opposites. Luc is a self-assured charmer and, at 19, he’s already garnered some respect as a junior tattoo artist. 16-year-old Jules sees the world through high-end binoculars, fascinated more by birds than humans. When three trumpeter swans show up at the local nature preserve utterly out of season, Luc figures Jules’s enthusiasm for birding will reach new heights. But the arrival of twin sisters, Katja and Liv Carter, proves him wrong. Sweet, shy Katja holds Jules’s interest more than any feathered creature, while brash, forward Liv appears to have her sights set on Luc. But the girls seem to show up only sporadically, and neither returns calls or texts until after dark. Soon Liv and Katja insist there’s something urgent they must tell the boys’ father, who is in a mental hospital recuperating from a nervous breakdown. And they need the brothers to convince him to listen. A RUSTLE OF WINGS by debut author Gloria Mendez-Santa Anna is a magical realism novel for young adults, inspired by the legend of Swan Lake and shot through with romantic urgency. It is certain to be enjoyed by readers of Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn and Jackson Pearce’s Sweetly. (Please note, Eric Myers is the agent on this project.)

Jo is the favored daughter in a family of shore-dwelling fish-herders, and while all in her bloodline have the ability to breathe underwater, the Ocean prefers Jo. She is the only one who can change shape into an eight-armed sea creature, and she alone among her eleven siblings shares her father’s predilection for visions. Jo loves their simple life and is happiest in the Ocean, but the once-close family bonds are fracturing—most of her brothers resent her, her elder sisters long since fled to the Great City and even her beloved eldest brother Ruben is discontent, dreaming of bringing improvements to their shoreline. When an enslaved magician shows up on her beach begging for help to mutiny against his half-mad sea captain, Jo’s loyalties are challenged—then she discovers that her brothers have touted her as a sideshow act and traded her to the captain for gold. Jo is sure she can outsmart the captain, yet she’s torn between the seashore life she loves—and the visions that show her ruling the beach one day-and the magician who’s sparked her curiosity about what lies beyond her sea. Kay Dominguez‘s vibrant, lyrical YA debut OCEAN’S OWN revisits an Old Testament myth to create a gorgeous adventure of Ocean magic and womanly strength as a deep-dreaming girl becomes who she is meant to be. (Please note, Sharon Pelletier is the agent on this project.)

On the day she realizes that adoption and freedom from the orphanage is out of the question, Elven receives a parcel from a grandfather she never knew existed. Inside, she finds a beautiful wooden puzzle box constructed by the famous craftsman Master Takuno, as well as a letter that says Elven shall be loved when she opens the box. In short order, Elven decides to run away and seek the help of Master Takuno in the nearby town of Armora, only to discover that he has moved to Bowler Hat Lake. Unsure what to do next, she meets the mysterious Madam Green who lives alone on Mount Armora with her shelter for abandoned and mistreated animals. When Elven learns that Madam Green has plans to attend a fair at Bowler Hat Lake later that summer, she decides to stay with her new friend and help out for the time being. But just as Elven is beginning to feel settled, gold miners arrive to work illegally on Mount Armora, and Elven learns the extraordinary tale of Madam Green’s past that has set her against the townspeople of Armora and could doom them both. It will take all of Elven’s skill and ingenuity to not only save herself and Madam Green, but to unlock the secret of the puzzle box as well. With echoes of both eastern and western folk and fairy tales, yet thoroughly modern in its style and characterization, THE PUZZLE BOX is a remarkable middle-grade debut for picture book author Gwen Lee (Little Cloud Wants Snow). (Please note, John Rudolph is the agent on this project.)

Brantwood High football star Eric Miller has a problem: he’s dead. And to make things worse, his own family is spreading the rumor that his accidental death was suicide. Myra Callaghan is new in town, still adjusting to life after her mother’s death and carrying a heavy secret. When Myra and Eric come face to face at Eric’s funeral, they are equally shocked-Myra can see Eric, and hear him. Myra is more than a little freaked out, but she’s also desperate to talk to her mother one last time, and despite her newfound gift, she can’t reach her. So Myra agrees to help Eric investigate his own death, and in return, he promises to take a message to her mother. With the help of a few accomplices—including Eric’s best friend Bryan, and Amy, an eternally teenaged ghost from Brantwood’s past—the two unlikely detectives begin to unravel the truth. Eric’s death was not a suicide, and not an accident—and his killer is closer than they could have possibly imagined. Anchored by themes of grief, loss, and the nature of friendship, AMONG THE LIVING by Jaclyn Opritza is Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Lauren Oliver—a fast-paced, heart-healing debut. (Please note, Sharon Pelletier is the agent on this project.)

Thirteen-year-old Charity may have mad math skills and a memory like a high-def IMAX film, but with a mouth that can’t speak and a body that jumps, claps, rocks and howls unpredictably, most people assume she’s mentally challenged. She craves friendship and learning, yet her special-needs school is at best a waiting room for hopeless cases. At worst, it’s a prison with a cruel warden who regularly locks her in an isolation room. Her parents battle to enroll Charity in a public junior high, but how can she participate with no voice and a body she struggles to control? Stares and snickers trigger a meltdown in her very first mainstream class, prompting the principal to transfer her. Desperate to prove that Charity can learn, her special-ed teacher attempts a new communication strategy—supported typing. At that moment, Charity types one sentence that changes everything: “I am intelligent.” Finally able to communicate, Charity wows her teachers and wins a coveted scholarship to travel to Washington, D.C. with a small group from the school. Her victory sparks a backlash—a cyber bully attacks her in an online school gossip site. Strange noises in the classroom torture her ears. Rumors brand her as a fraud. With the support of her newfound friends, Charity will have to fight like hell to expose her tormentors and win her right to a real education. GIRL DIFFERENTLY WIRED is inspired by the true story of Peyton Goddard, the first person using supported typing to graduate valedictorian from college. Following author Carol Cujec‘s first book, I Am Intelligent, a memoir of Peyton’s incredible journey with Peyton acting as a consultant on the book, GIRL DIFFERENTLY WIRED is a ground-breaking upper middle grade novel that encourages readers to discover strength in diversity and regard all people as vastly valuable. (Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.)

Get ready for the start of a funny, fast-paced middle grade series, Camp Chub-A-Way, by debut author Mark Zukor. The first installment, CAMP CHUB-A-WAY: DANGER IS SERVED, takes place in a fat camp like no other. Twelve-year-old computer nerd Andy Marsh reluctantly heads there to work off twenty pounds, but Camp Chub-A-Way is strange from the beginning. Security cameras seem to be following Andy’s every move. Meals are not exactly low-cal—they are huge, elaborate feasts. And the camp’s idea of exercise is having the kids watch videos from the comfort of reclining chairs. Before long, Andy and the other campers suspect their counselors are hiding something. A hidden cookbook, with recipe ingredients including humans, reveals the terrible truth: The campers are being fattened up to be eaten. When the counselors catch the boys with the cookbook, they unzip their own skins to reveal their true alien identities. Threatening the campers with laser blasters, the bug-like creatures lock the kids up to ship them to the aliens’ planet, where they’re slated to be featured on the menu of Big Bob’s Galactic Country Buffet. Camp Chub-A-Way: Danger is Served expertly blends humor and thrills in the manner of R.L. Stine and Chris Grabenstein. (Please note, Eric Myers is the agent on this project.)

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