The Penguin Young Readers Group offers mysteries, adventures and fantasies certain to please middle grade readers.
“The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 3: The Second Spy” ($16.99) continues Jacqueline West’s popular series about Olive and her life in a strange Victorian mansion. In this story, Olive falls into a hole in her backyard and ends up in an underground room of jars. Wicked Annabell McMartin returns to taunt Olive and to unleash Elsewhere’s hidden evils. Will Olive’s three talking cats or Morton, the kind man caught in a painting, be able to help Olive?
“The Treasure Chest: Book #4 Prince of Air” ($6.99) is the latest in Ann Hood’s history lessons hidden in mysteries and adventure stories. This time Maisie and Felix take a journey in the Treasure Chest to Coney Island in 1893 to meet magician Harry Houdini.
“Wereworld: Nest of Serpents” ($16.99) is the fourth in Curtis Jobling’s fantasy series. War rages in Lyssia. Werewolf Drew, heir to the throne, battles Ratlords and Crowlords. When the evil wereserpent Vale joins the battle, Drew’s best friend Hector turns against him and the war goes in a totally different direction.
“Stickman Odyssey Book 2: The Wrath of Zosimos” ($12.99) is Christopher Ford’s fresh and innovative way of teaching Greek epics and myths. This graphic novel travels with Zozimos as he attempts to regain the throne of Sticatha. The goddess Athena plays tricks on Zozimos and confounds his efforts to be a successful hero.
“Deadweather and Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg, Book One” ($16.99) is the first of Geoff Rodkey’s sagas of life at sea. Egbert lives on a fruit plantation with his parents and two siblings on Deadweather Island. The island is surrounded by pirates but they do little harm to anyone. However, Egbert’s family disappears in a hot-air balloon accident, and then a villain goes after Egbert in seach of the location of a hidden treasure. Suddenly lif eon Deadweather gets tricky.
“Shark Wars #3: Into The Abyss” ($12.99) is the third of E.J. Altbacker’s highly successful forays into a magical underwater world. Gray, Barkley, Rogue, Coral and Auzy Auzy Shivers have defeated Finnivus and the Indi Shiver armada. The final battle has not been fought, as Finnivus recovers and leads the charge against Gray, no longer surrounded by his allies.
“Gods and Warriors” ($16.99) is Michelle Paver’s first of a series based on mythology and ancient cultural histories. Hylas seeks his sister, who has been captured by powerful warriors. He is joined by Pirra, runaway daughter of a High Priestess. A dolphin, a lion cub and a falcon help them find his sister and withstand the wiles of the gods of sea and land.
“In A Glass Grimmly” ($16.99) is the second of Adam Gidwitz’s retelling of fairy tales. Drawing on the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson, Gidwitz weaves his own fantasies about what might have happened beyond the familiar childhood stories. Jack and Jill meet a three-legged frog and embark on adventures not be found in any other book. Always funny and ultimately always with a timely moral, these tales will fascinate readers of all ages.
“Gustav Gloom and the People Taker” ($12.99) is the first in a series by award winner Adam-Troy Castro. The creepy illustrations, reminiscent of Tim Burton or Edward Gorey, are by Kristin Margiotta. One day Gloom’s neighbor Fernie chases her cat into the old mansion. There she finds every book ever written and attends a feast where her own shadow is a guest. The People Taker tries to take Fernie and her family to Shadow Country. Gustav must save Fernie.
“Clueless McGee” is the first of a diary series by Jeff Mack This best-selling book is about P.J. McGee, the terror of the fifth grade who fancies himself a detective. He plays video games every possible free moment, hoping to use those skills to solve mysteries. Someone fills the music teacher’s tuba with mac and cheese and the school bully gets the blame. McGee learns the truth and makes a new friend in the process.
“The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie” ($16.99) is the first book by Jacqueline Resnick. Illustrations are by Matthew Cook. Smalls is a sun bear who can stand on his hind legs. He lives on Mr. Mumford’s farm with Tilda the Angora rabbit, Rigby the Komondor dog and Wombat. Claude Magnificence steals the menagerie for his traveling circus. Claude’s nephew Bertie helps the animals and the other animals in the circus escape from his evil uncle.
“The Midadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe: The Tell Tale Start” ($15.99) by Gordon McAlpine takes off from Poe’s own stories and follows the misadventures of 12-year-old twins Edgar and Allan. When their black cat Roderick Usher is stolen and taken to Kansas, the boys convince their aunt and uncle, their guardians since the twins’ parents were launched into space, to go on a road trip. On the way they use their telepathic connection and their great-great-great-great-grand uncle Poe’s messages to solve the mysteries of the Land of Oz and of their own futures.