STELLA!! A Mixed-Up Files Interview with McCall Hoyle

I’m over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors talking with McCall Hoyle about National Epilepsy Awareness Month, writing, and her upcoming Middle Grade book, Stella!

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, and one of the Epilepsy Foundation’s goals for this month is to get more people talking about epilepsy. So, with that goal in mind, I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to talk with award-winning author McCall Hoyle about her upcoming book STELLA and her writing process.

Please tell us a little bit about STELLA.

STELLA is a hopeful story about a retired working beagle who must find the courage to overcome her fears and use her special nose to save a girl’s life.

The story is told from the beagle, Stella’s, point of view. I love stories like A DOG’S PURPOSE and THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN that are told from an animal’s point of view.

I can’t wait for readers to experience life through a Stella’s eyes, ears, and, especially, her nose.

Head on over to From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and read the rest of the interview, sign up to win a copy of STELLA at McCall’s Goodreads Giveaway, and be sure to pre-order a copy of this amazing book – which will be released in March 2021.

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October New Releases at From the Mixed-Up Files

The leaves are crunchy and the air is filled with the scent of pumpkin spiced lattes and wood smoke. That very specific combination means only one thing:  It’s October. Time for crisp days, cool nights, and cabinets full of mini candy bars. Sounds like a perfect time curl up with a sweet snack and one of these October New Releases.

And a special shout-out to From the Mixed-Up Files’ own Rosanne Parry. Congratulations on the release of A Whale of the Wild <3

 

A Whale of the Wild by Rosanne Parry
Lindsay Moore (Illustrator)

In the stand-alone companion to the New York Times–bestselling A Wolf Called Wander, a young orca whale must lead her brother on a tumultuous journey to be reunited with their pod. This gorgeously illustrated animal adventure novel explores family bonds, survival, global warming, and a changing seascape. Includes information about orcas and their habitats.

For Vega and her family, salmon is life. And Vega is learning to be a salmon finder, preparing for the day when she will be her family’s matriarch. But then she and her brother Deneb are separated from their pod when a devastating earthquake and tsunami render the seascape unrecognizable. Vega must use every skill she has to lead her brother back to their family. The young orcas face a shark attack, hunger, the deep ocean, and polluted waters on their journey. Will Vega become the leader she’s destined to be?

A Whale of the Wild weaves a heart-stopping tale of survival with impeccable research on a delicate ecosystem and threats to marine life. New York Times-bestselling author Rosanne Parry’s fluid writing and Lindsay Moore’s stunning artwork bring the Salish Sea and its inhabitants to vivid life. An excellent read-aloud and read-alone, this companion to A Wolf Called Wander will captivate fans of The One and Only Ivan and Pax.

Includes black-and-white illustrations throughout, a map, and extensive backmatter about orcas and their habitats.

 

Field Trip (Mr. Wolf’s Class #4) by Aron Nels Steinke

Mr. Wolf’s class ventures out on an exciting field trip to the forest!
Mr. Wolf’s students are going on a field trip! Everyone gets to sleep in log cabins, come up with fun camp names, and journey through the great woods. They’ll be learning about the oldest and largest trees in the forest, exploring an abandoned ghost town, and toasting s’mores over a campfire. On top of all that, there are kids from a different school to meet!

Meanwhile, Aziza and Randy must learn how to work through an argument, and Abdi is worried that he can’t keep up with Henry and his new friends.

There’s much to do, see, and learn in the outdoors!

Discover more October New Releases over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. And, happy reading!!

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National Dog Day: A Book List for Dog Lovers

Today is National Dog Day – a holiday that makes my dog-loving heart soar – despite the fact that I am still, somehow, only an imaginary dog owner. 🙁

Doglessness is tough. Ask any kid who has longed for a furry friend. Which is why today, I’m celebrating National Dog Day with a dog-centered book list. (Think of it as a gateway imaginary dog friend for those of us who can’t or don’t have the real thing).

I’m including some of my favorites, both old and new, because as any dog-lover knows, a dog friend stays in your heart forever.

Natinal Dog Day | Wish | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Barbara O’Connor’s WISH is one of my favorite middle grade novels. It’s one of those books that I wish I had written – and Barbara is one of those authors I wish I could write as well as. Kid me would have adored this book.

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite.

But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is, until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

From award-winning author Barbara O’Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

National Dog Day | Henry Huggins | www.patricibaileyauthor.com

This is a classic. Beverly Cleary’s first novel about life on Klickitat Street, HENRY HUGGINS pulled me in as a child and has stuck with me my whole life. When I think of the friendship between a kid and a dog, I think of Henry and Ribsy.And that scene in the street at the end? I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I refer to it far too often for far too many hard choices. Beverly Clearly followed up this book with two more great Henry Huggins books, Henry and Ribsy and Ribsy, but this one is my favorite.

Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone. From that moment on, the two are inseparable. But when Ribsy’s original owner appears, trying to reclaim his dog, Henry’s faced with the possibility of losing his new best friend. Has Klickitat Street seen the last of rambunctious Ribsy?

 

National Dog Day | Rules of the Ruff | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

I read Heidi Lang’s RULES OF THE RUFF in ARC form and discovered I have a unrealized dream of being a dog walker. How did I not know that was a job when I was twelve? And why is it not my job now?

Twelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long, lonely summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her uncle is clueless, her aunt is downright frosty, and worst of all, her cousin Ann thinks Jessie isn’t cool enough to hang out with anymore. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice. Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon, she’s wrangling her very own pack like the best of them. But when Monique, a charming rival dog walker, moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.

 

National Dog Day | Where the Red Fern Grows | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comThis book breaks all my rules about animals and media, but I can’t keep myself from putting WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS on this list. The first time I read this book, I was working as a student-teacher in a seventh grade language arts class. I cried as I read it in my studio apartment when I prepared for our novel circles, and I cried again with my group of students as we read and discussed it one chilly winter afternoon. [Spoiler Alert:  It will break your heart, and is my only exception to my Does the Dog Die rule.]

Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.

Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.

 

National Dog Day | Beacuse of Winn Dixie | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comA student introduced me to Kate DiCamillo’s BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE and I am forever in her debt. (Thanks, Casey <3) A near perfect story about a girl and the dog who helps her make friends is a masterpiece of heart-felt story-telling. We should all be rescued by a dog like Winn-Dixie at least once in our lives.

The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket—and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor. A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive. Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar.

Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship—and forgiveness—can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm.

What are your favorite dog-centered books? Please, share in the comments below. We can all use more imaginary dog friends. And, if you’re in a position to help, check out the National Dog Day website to learn more about ways to celebrate and rescue organizations, or make a donation to your local animal shelter or dog rescue.

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June New Releases at From the Mixed-Up Files

It’s finally June, and I’m sure a lot of us are looking forward to some sunny days and some new books! Lucky for us writers, publishers, bookstores, and libraries have our backs. Check out my list of June New Releases over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog. June is looking good with a fun nonfiction release from the MUF’s own Jennifer Swanson. (Congratulations, Jennifer!!) and a contemporary novel from my friend Supriya Kelkar (Yay, Supriya!). there’s sure to be a lot of a great books to help you ease into summer.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBeastly Bionics:  Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature by Jennifer Swanson

Discover how the natural world inspires innovation in science and technology to create the latest and greatest breakthroughs and discoveries in this exciting book.

Did you know that scientists have developed a bionic tool shaped like an elephant’s trunk that helps lift heavy objects? Or that the needle-like pointed beak of the kingfisher bird encouraged engineers in Japan to change the design of the Shinkansen “bullet trains” to reduce noise? Across multiple fields of study and methods of problem-solving, scientists are turning to biomimicry, or engineering inspired by biology or nature, to make all kinds of cool technological advancements. From robots that protect people and gather information to everyday inventions, like reflectors on the roads and ice-proof coatings for airplanes, to new sources of renewable energy, this book dives into the ways that nature can give us ideas on how to improve our world. Discover more than 40 examples of technology influenced by animals, learn about some of the incredible creatures who have inspired multiple creations, and meet some of the scientists and the stories behind their inventions.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgCurse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

A fast-paced series starter perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and filled with adventure, mythology, and an unforgettable trio of friends.

On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.

Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.

The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin…the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.

With only his village’s terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgAmerican as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar

An Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.

Discover more June New Releases over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. And, happy reading!!

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Mixed-Up Files Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson

Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson | Janet S. Johnson | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comOne of my favorite things about writing for From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors is that I get to talk to so many great writers.

The following post is especially fun for me because I got to do an interview with Janet Sumner Johnson, who successfully writes both Middle Grade and Picture Books.

 

You started your career as an author writing Middle Grade (THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURES OF THE PB&J SOCIETY). What got you interested in writing Picture Books? And, how long did it take you to write a manuscript you were happy with?

I have always loved picture books. The idea of telling a story in so few words fascinated me! When I had three young kids at home, we had just moved to a new city, and we spent a lot of time at the library and reading picture books. Kids can be pretty inspiring (lol!), and that’s when I first attempted to write a picture book.

Granted, I was busy writing middle grade during this time, but it took eight years from the moment I wrote that first picture book, to when I finally dared show a manuscript to my agent.

Where do you get your ideas? And, once you have an idea, how do you know if it is best suited for a Picture Book or a Middle Grade book? Do  you start out with the form specifically in mind or does it sometimes take you by surprise?

Read the rest of the interview over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors and be sure to check out Janet’s books at your favorite bookstore.

Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson | Help Wanted | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com  Interview with Janet Sumner Johnson | PB and J Society | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Suggestions (+ 1) For Suddenly Homeschooling Your Kid(s)

Hi everyone. I shared this post about homeschooling in the time of Covid-19 over at the From the Mixed-Up Files blog, but thought I’d post it here in its entirety for anyone who missed it.

For more resources and lesson plans to assist you as you navigate homeschooling amid Covid-19, please visit From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors.

10 Suggestions (+ 1) For Suddenly Homeschooling Your Kid(s) | www.patriciabaileuauthor.comBefore I became an author, I was a teacher, and I spent the last years of my career creating and facilitating a program that worked with homeschooling parents. So, I figured I’d brush off some that experience and share some simple strategies to help those of you who have suddenly found yourself not only trying to work at home but trying to homeschool your kids as well. I hope some of these suggestions prove helpful to you in the weeks (and months) to come.

 10 SUGGESTIONS (+ 1)
FOR SUDDENLY HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KID(S)

1. Breathe. This is a strange and stressful time for everyone. It’s okay to not be sure how to navigate all the things being thrown at you. Take time to decompress, get extra sleep, and go easy – on yourself, first. Then you can go easy on the rest of the family.

2. Take a break from the academic pressures – theirs and yours. Focus on creating a calm home environment. Take some time to find your family’s rhythm in all of this. Help your kids adjust to being home and help them understand your needs, too.

3. Set up some soothing and fun family-time activities. Play games. Work on a puzzle. Watch a movie. Do some reading aloud. Anything that brings you together in a non stressful, non productive way.

4. Figure out a reasonable chore structure. Give every family member a job that helps keep the family healthy and organized. A sense of control is important for people of all ages. Help everyone feel they are doing their part and that they are assisting in maintaining the well being of your family.

5. Do a good thing for someone else. Maybe someone at home with you. Maybe a neighbor or family member who lives elsewhere. Set up a video chat, a phone call, drop a note or picture into email or text, help someone order grocery delivery. Send someone who is isolated a fun gift from an online store if you can afford it.

6. Do the parts of school your kids like. Read. Draw. Play trivia games. Solve fun and silly math problems. Do a science experiment. Build something. Plan the family meals. Cook. Play an instrument if you have one. Make an instrument if you don’t. Learn a new language. Explore a topic your child has a deep interest in. (Now is the time to do that deep dive into dinosaurs or movie making or the physics of flight). Take pictures. Read a whole book series or everything by a particular author. Create a home art gallery. Write and perform a play. Start a blog/vlog/YouTube channel. Write a story. Write a book. (Camp Nanowrimo starts April 1). Make some art. Learn to knit or crochet or whatever other craft sounds like fun. Grow something: Flowers, vegetables, sprouts, it doesn’t matter. Just grow something you all can care for and watch thrive.

7. Move your bodies. Incorporate dance breaks, room run-arounds, scavenger hunts, and exercise of any kind into your day. Try to get some sun and fresh air if you can do it safely.

8. Once you’ve sorted out the family’s rhythms, gradually set up a schedule for your day. Be prepared to be flexible. News, stress, etc. is going to take a toll. There’s no use forcing anyone to study if they’re not going to retain any of it. Sometimes the best thing at the moment is to watch a movie; sometimes the best thing is to take a nap; and, yes, sometimes the best thing is for everyone is to stare at their screens and zone out. It’s okay.

Just be sure to break up your schedule with fun and rest and movement, and set up some rewards for completing your task/job. Even small rewards can make a big difference.

9. If your kid’s school sent work home, you’ll need to figure out how your child works best. Some kids adjust readily to moving from traditional school to online. They simply work through the subjects with breaks in between just like a normal (but often shorter) school day. Other kids struggle. Again, flexibility is key. See what works for your kids and start moving them in that direction incrementally if at all. You don’t have to do it all in one day (or one week).

Another option is to treat work sent home like you do homework at first. Your family probably already has a system in place for that. Just break up the work and time the way you do with regular homework (especially weekend homework). If you’re overwhelmed by all of it, setting it aside is okay, too. This is new to everyone. Teachers will understand. If you’re overwhelmed by all of it but really want some structure, try to stick with the reading and the math. Math tends to be the place kids fall behind, so if you can keep up the math facts/problem solving skills you’ll be ahead of the game.

10. Don’t try to fill the teacher role. Be the parent. That’s more than enough work for anyone. Trust me. The last thing you need is to add a teacher/student struggle to your relationship right now.

+1. Finally, hang in there. There will be bumps and tears along the way as everyone tries to sort this out, but there will also be a whole lot of connection and a whole lot of love. Embrace those parts. In the long run, those moments are what truly matter – not the lesson plans.

As always, feel free to comment below with questions or with ideas and resources that have been working for you. We’re all in this together, so let’s share what we can. <3

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Happy Book Birthday – Help Wanted Must Love Books

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Book Birthday post on the blog, and today’s is extra special. My good friend Janet Sumner Johnson’s debut picture book HELP WANTED MUST LOVE BOOKS is out in the world today and it is adorable and amazing!!

Happy Book Birthday | Help Wanted Must Love Books | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can’t stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team. Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

See, adorable, just like I promised in my Goodreads review:

Help Wanted, Must Love BooksHelp Wanted, Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A sweet and funny read that both kids and adults will enjoy.
A solid story, great illustrations, and a host of fun characters make this a must for anyone’s picture book shelf. The resumes at the end were a perfect and adorable touch. I’m looking forward to more from this author.

View all my reviews

Head over to your local independent bookstore or to one of these online vendors to pick up a copy of HELP WANTED MUST LOVE BOOKS.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Powells

You can also learn about Janet’s Middle Grade book, THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY here.

Congratulations, Janet!

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Middle Grade Book Love: American as Paneer Pie

I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC of Supriya Kelkar’s upcoming Middle Grade novel, AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE, this week.

You may remember Supriya and her Middle Grade debut AHIMSA.

Well, she’s back. This time with a contemporary novel set in the Midwest that’s sure to become a middle grade favorite.

Middle Grade Book Love | american-as-paneer-pie | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAn Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.

 

American as Paneer PieAmerican as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely, heart-felt story that does a brilliant job of looking at everything from friendship to racism from the very believable perspective of an eleven year old.

Lekha is a great middle grade heroine. She’s smart, funny, and trying so hard to both be herself and to fit in – at home, at school, and at swim practice – that the reader is pulled right into her story and can’t help but cringe and cheer along side of her. Her pain is easy to connect with, her missteps are real and oh-s0-relatable, and her triumphs are just the right size to make any reader see that growth, change, and forgiveness is possible.

Great supporting characters – including present and realistic parents – round out this story and make it one of my current favorites.

A must read!

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A easy-to-relate-to kid with real life concerns.
  • Great friendships (and believable rivalries).
  • Puns!

For teachers

  • A smart, funny, and engaging handling of some big topics.
  • True-to-life examples of racism (macro and micro), including classroom-level aggressions from kids and adults.
  • A couple fun lesson ideas (an Op-Ed assignment and cooking assignment) that would work great in any classroom.

AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE releases May 12, 2020, but is available for
pre-order online.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

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February New Releases at Mixed-Up Files

February New Releases at Mixed-Up Files | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors today sharing some books that are coming out this month.

February New Releases

February is looking promising you all! This month’s New Releases list is filled with everything your Middle Grade reader is looking for – from mysteries, friendship stories, sports, and, yes, dogs!! I think we’re all going to be glad that this year is a Leap Year. Now, we have an extra day to read these beauties.

Check out the list at From the Mixed-Up Files.

TrishSignaturebluePB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com