Branching Out: Middle Grade and Young Adult Reads

For a couple of years now, I've focused Pickle Corn Jam on picture books. Picture books are (primarily) what I write, and with a five year old, picture books are (primarily) what I read. I've even been toying with getting this shirt, because it's so, so true: picture books are my jam. And I'll never give 'em up.

But now that the little is getting not-so-little, and now that I've decided to revive some of my older manuscripts that (gasp!) aren't picture books, I've been doing a lot more reading of books for the middle grade and young adult set. And guys! There is some truly fantastic stuff out there.

I want to read it (all of it) and recommend it (most of it) and share it with you (as much as humanly possible). So, (cue trumpets!) Pickle Corn Jam is growing up! Branching out! Getting even bigger and better!

In true Pickle Corn Jam fashion, we'll be kicking it off with...a shrubbery a giveaway!

How do you win? Get entered by subscribing (subscriber LOVE = all subscribers get entered for every PCJ blog contest, ever) OR by leaving me a comment about a recently published middle grade or young adult novel (or picture book, because picture books, y'all) that is your current fave by WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017! Simple, right?

What could you win? This is the BEST part. There are THREE prizes, perfectly themed for Halloween (fairies, Bigfoot, ghosts, oh my)! (plus a bonus prize that will be given away on Instagram...are you following me yet?)

(THREE winners will each receive ONE of the following) 
CONGRATULATIONS TRISTA, ELLEN AND LINDSEY! I'll contact each of you via email!

The Changelings 
by Christina Soontornvat

"Readers will enjoy the balance among action scenes, quieter periods of character interaction, and rich descriptions of Faerie...The concept of the Changelings-and why they're important to keeping Faerie and Earth connected-is explained in bits with an enticing air of mystery that will keep readers engaged, and an additional final surprise puts the remaining pieces in place." - School Library Journal
Age Range 10-14 years 
Uncertain Summer
by Jessica Lee Anderson

"For every kid who has ever dreamed of doing something big, who has mourned friendships past, who has known with all their heart that they can make a difference...Uncertain Summer is an absolute must!" P.J. Hoover, author, Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life
Age Range 9-12 years 

A Properly Unhaunted Place
by William Alexander

"This novel explores the very idea of books, the purpose of libraries and the rather large theme of why the present must embrace a relationship with the past. It reminds us that if we are not brave enough to live alongside the haunting past, then we risk becoming nothing more than ghosts, haunting the earth but never inhabiting it." - New York Times (read full review, here)
Age Range 8-12 years 


Book of Bones (10 Record-Breaking Animals)
by Gabrielle Balkan and Sam Brewster

Ten record-breaking animal bones are introduced through a series of superlatives set up as a guessing game with clues. Readers examine animals' skeletons and guess to whom they belong; the answers are revealed in vibrant, full-color scenic habitats, with easily understood - and humorous - explanations.
"Gives both casual browsers and budding naturalists plenty to gnaw on...A rib-tickling gallery." - Kirkus Reviews
Age Range 4-9 years (Pre-K to Grade 4)

(Entries must be received by 11:59 PM, Central Time, Wednesday, October 18, 2017)


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Favorite New Reads for Summer!

If you're looking for a funny new read for your kiddos, these four choices deliver a little something for everyone!

Have you read these? Did you think they were hilarious, too? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Dev Petty (Artist) and Lauren Eldridge (Illustrator)

What an original picture book! CLAYMATES is told completely though the dialogue of two balls of clay who become fast friends...and co-conspirators!

I couldn't stop giggling on my first read-through, and it has been requested REPEATEDLY since we brought it home. Ohhh, that hippo...

Pete with No Pants
Rowboat Watkins

Although this one could get a little tricky to read to a group of kids because of all of the different side voices, it is a very kid-centric story with heart.

All Pete wants to do is tell a knock-knock joke, wear no pants and be something other than an elephant. Sound like anyone you know (well, except maybe the elephant part...)? Fair warning: Your kids will be saying "night night nudey bird" for weeks.

Prince and Pirate
Charlotte Gunnufson (Author) and Mike Lowery (Illustrator)

In a battle for the space between corners, following the "doubly dreadful PLOP," will Prince ("Behold! I am the rightful heir to this splendiferous kingdom!") or Pirate ("Shiver me tailfin! I be just the pirate to command this grand sea!") prevail?

Gunnufson's spot on depiction of her character's voices (and Lowery's illustrations of the story's "twist") make this read aloud happy and jolly, indeed.

Sea Monkey & Bob
Aaron Reynolds (Author) and Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Teaching your kids about buoyancy has never been so silly! When Sea Monkey is terrified he'll sink into the dark, deep sea (like tubas and dinosaurs), Bob becomes convinced that he'll float up to where there is air. Until the two come up with a plan to keep them both from sinking or floating, that is. A perfect addition to your library for some (sneaky) summer learning!

Happy reading!